Back pain is one of the most common of all medical conditions, and it’s the number one reason why people miss time at work. It has also been identified as one of the major worldwide causes of disability, affecting literally millions of people at any given time. In fact, most people will be impacted by back pain at some point during their lives. That makes it important to find the right kind of treatment to help you cope with the pain and discomfort, so you can still lead a productive life, and not miss out on the things you love to do. Here are some of the most modern forms of treatment being used, and one of them will probably be effective in your situation as well.
Symptoms of back pain
Back pain will generally result from some kind of physical activity, injury, or some underlying medical condition. It can impact people of all genders and all ages, and as you age the chances of incurring some kind of back pain will generally increase. Since the back is made up of a very complex structure of nerves, bones, ligaments, and tendons, it is capable of providing support for the body to move around and be active. When any kind of problem interferes with the components of this support system, it can lead to noticeable back pain.
Some of the first symptoms you’ll notice from back pain include muscle ache, pain that lessens when reclining, or pain that radiates all the way down into your feet. You might also experience a shooting or stabbing pain in your back, or you might experience pain that worsens whenever you’re standing, walking, bending, or lifting. Any of these signs might be an indicator that you have some kind of back issue that will require pain management for a period of time.
General observations about back pain
If you have acute back pain, it will probably subside all by itself within a few weeks, and it may require extra rest and pain medication during that time frame. However, there is always a possibility that back pain can return at any time, since it can be a very complex condition, and can be caused by a number of sources. Many people are obliged to cope with chronic pain, which is defined by the fact that it persists beyond 12 weeks. In most cases, chronic back pain is attributable to some other underlying condition which is affecting the back.
Depending on the kind of back pains you have, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, topical pain relievers, and various over-the-counter medications. All these forms of treatment can provide temporary relief from back pain. If you’re someone who suffers from chronic back pain, then you’ll probably need something a little more substantial than physical therapy and medication.
Relief from chronic back pain
Two of the things that can be very effective at relieving chronic back pain are steroid injections and anesthetic drugs. These can be administered directly to ligaments, bones, muscles, and in the area surrounding nerves. Most of the time, a patient will experience significant relief from back pain, even if it’s only temporary in nature. An added benefit to using injections is that they serve to confirm the source of back pain.
Sometimes epidural injections are administered, so as to relieve pain in the upper or lower extremities, and this is generally attributable to pinched nerves in the spinal area. Radiofrequency ablation is a treatment that involves heating up nerves which normally transmit pain signals to the brain. A radiofrequency needle is used in order to produce a heat lesion, and this effectively prevents the nerve from transmitting pain signals to the brain. When this process is used, it will generally be effective for a period between three and six months.
Another treatment possibility is to use implantable electrotherapy stimulators. Specifically, these will be spinal cord stimulators or peripheral nerve stimulators. These types of devices are surgically implanted in the vicinity of the spine, and they will deliver mild electric impulses to the nerves which block the pain messages that would ordinarily be sent to the brain. Since no pain messages reach the brain, the patient does not experience pain.
Implantable infusion pumps are another device that can be surgically implanted in the spine so as to deliver a pain relieving medication. This device will be programmed by your doctor to deliver just the right amount of medication to the appropriate area of the body. By sending pain medication to receptors in the area of the spine, pain signals don’t get sent to the brain, and the patient does not experience the perception of back pain.
These types of treatment strategies are all capable of delivering significant relief from back pain, but if they prove to be ineffective in your case, it could be that surgery will then become a last-resort type of option.