This article will provide an overview of some common treatments for back pain. Deciding what treatment to use will be based on the cause, and level, of the pain. This article is here to provide basic information to sufferers, so that they know the scope of treatment options. As such, this is not an exhaustive list. It is also necessary to seek out a licensed practitioner to develop a specific treatment plan.
While it is not a good idea to handle back pain on your own, sometimes back pain is temporary or mild, and does not require a trip to the doctor’s office. The basic home treatments for back pain include:
- Rest – Lie down in a comfortable and natural position. Use pillows for support; don’t lift heavy objects or move the body unnecessarily.
- Ice or Heat – which one feels better? Try alternating them, throughout the day. Ice will be recommended for pain that comes with swelling or inflammation.
- Over-the-Counter pain medication: Advil or Ibuprofen for inflammation.
- Gentle Exercise – for pain related to tightness or tension, gentle exercise of the surrounding muscles can help loosen you up. Also, regularly working the back and shoulders helps posture by strengthening muscles.
- Get a supportive mattress. Your bed could be causing you the problem, especially if you are waking up feeling sore.
Chiropractors and Physical Therapists
These practitioners tend to get a lot of flack, because they are generally not licensed to practice in Singapore. While medical doctors are more trained at diagnosing and prescribing, physical therapists handle many pain issues, and especially those that are related to skeletal or musculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors do their work using hands-on manipulation to align the body which have safety concerns for some people. Physical therapists may do massage and teach exercises that help the body align naturally. The basic theory overall is that proper alignment yields proper movement and thus, prevents or eliminates pain. You will find that you get your money’s worth when you see these professionals, because they take their time, and you are likely to see results. Alignment issues can be caused by something as simple as poor posture, or as serious as a physical accident. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor if they would recommend using either a good physical therapist.
There are many medications out there effective in combating back pain. Again the type of medication that will be most effective may depend on the cause of the pain. Inflammations are best treated with Nsaids, such as Aleve and Ibuprofen, whereas muscle tension or spasms are often treated by muscle relaxants. There are also more potent medications used for pain which are controlled, such as hydrocodone or oxycontin, but these can also come with undesirable side effects; they are addictive, can be as debilitating as the pain itself, and do more to mask the pain than actually treat the source of the problem.
Non-surgical Spinal Decompression is a newer treatment, which utilizes FDA cleared equipment to apply distraction forces to spinal structures in a precise and graduated manner, according to AmericanSpinal.com. The process gently stretches the spine and changes its force and position. During the procedure, the patient lies down on their stomach or back and relaxes, while a revolutionary traction machine is able to separate the vertebrae, lessening the impact of discs responsible for that intra-vertebral pressure. Non-surgical Spinal Decompression is used to treat nerve issues, joint issues, or degenerative disc disease, as well as pain, numbness, weakness or tingling. It is not recommended for arthritic pain.
Surgical Spinal decompression is quite invasive, and involves making cuts to the discs in order to relieve pressure. Surgical decompression is generally a last resort, according to WebMD. Surgical decompression is used to treat pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
Electric Stimulation and Electro-thermal Therapies
The most commonly used electrical stimulation is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It is also commonly known as Bioelectric Therapy. This treatment is used to provide short-term pain relief, so that it is not used for chronic pain. A low-voltage device delivers electrodes near the source of pain, which scrambles pain messages to the brain, resulting in relief.
IDET is Intra-vertebral Electro-thermal Therapy, in which a small catheter is placed inside of an incision, and 90 degrees of heat is applied to the area, modifying nerve fibers and essentially, disrupting pain receptors. These types of invasive treatments are used when alternative treatments have been exhausted.