Most adults in New Jersey and throughout the country have suffered from back pain at one time or another. If you’ve experienced back pain, you likely have searched high and low for back pain treatment to make it go away. Many types of back pain will relent within a few hours to a day, while others can continue for much longer and even become chronic. Thankfully, there are several effective back pain treatments, and the type of treatment depends on several factors, including the region of the pain, the level of pain, and the personal preference of the patient. Below is information regarding some of the more common treatments for back pain, including exercise and strength building, medications, physical therapy, injections, surgery, and sometimes, just plain rest is the key.
Exercise and strength building
One of the first methods used for back pain treatment is exercise, especially if the pain is not chronic, acute, or doesn’t involve a medical issue such as a herniated disc. Exercise often helps back pain that’s caused by muscle compromise. Exercises that also include building strength help patients to lose weight, which reduces pressure on the back and loosen back muscles. Activities such as low-impact aerobics, Pilates, swimming, stretching, and walking can also help patients with back pain to build strength in core abdominal muscles, which are important to support the back and lessen the burden on the spine.
Physical therapy is another common back pain treatment. It is used for patients who do not need surgery as well as for patients who need surgical intervention. Physical therapists provide a number of back pain treatments in New Jersey to people who are experiencing all levels of pain. These treatments include ultrasound, muscle release, heat, and electrical stimulation to the area of the pain. Massage therapy can also be an effective means of reducing or eliminating back pain that involves muscle weakness or compromise. During the course of the physical therapy, a patient typically will be taught proper exercises for their specific areas of issue and level of pain. These exercises are designed to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility in order to properly support the back and release pressure.
Oftentimes, back pain treatments will include medications that relieve pain. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (brand names include Motrin and Advil). Acetaminophens such as Tylenol are another common NSAID prescribed as back pain treatment. Some patients respond well with naproxen for back pain treatment (Aleve belongs to this medication category). All of these medications can be effective at alleviating back pain of various types, but sometimes doctors will prescribe prescription strength of these, rather than advising use of the over-the-counter versions. If pain persists even after a patient uses the prescription strengths of these medications, a physician may prescribe narcotics such as codeine. This medication typically will be taken by a patient for only a short period of time, and it requires a physician to monitor usage.
For more relentless pain, a spine surgeon in New Jersey may recommend injections of cortisone, which is an anti-inflammatory. Cortisone injections typically are given to a patient who is experiencing persistent pain that radiates down the leg. For this back pain treatment, cortisone is injected into the epidural space (the space around the spinal cord). Because it is an anti-inflammatory, cortisone aids in decreasing inflammation that can occur in nerve roots. Some patients may need ongoing injections that must be given every few months in order to maintain relief.
If a patient’s back pain does not relent after trying one or more of the above therapies, a surgical procedure may be necessary. At times, spinal surgery may be necessary in order to maintain or restore routine activities of daily living. If a patient is experiencing persistent radiating pain, nerve compression, or progressive muscle weakness, a spine surgeon may recommend spinal surgery. Spine surgeons in New Jersey often reserve surgical procedures for those patients who suffer from conditions such as herniated disc, bulging disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease.
Sometimes, all that’s necessary to relieve back pain is rest. Millions of people each year experience something known as ‘throwing your back out.’ This is an expression that refers to experiencing a sudden, acute pain that often makes it difficult or even excruciatingly painful, and thereby impossible, to move. Throwing your back out can happen during just about any activity, from something as simple as twisting the wrong way, to something more strenuous such as carrying a heavy object up a flight of stairs. This type of pain often can be treated with rest and anti-inflammatories.