The most common causes of neck and back pain are muscle strains and ligament sprains, which result from overexertion, improper lifting techniques, strenuous sports, or a variety of other causes. Given enough time, strains and sprains typically will heal on their own. To ease the pain in the meantime, there are many conservative treatment methods to choose from.
Designing a Conservative Treatment Plan
- Hot therapy – when heat is applied to an injury, circulation in that area increases and helps with the healing process.
- Cold therapy – when cold is applied to an injury, circulation decreases in the affected area and inflammation is reduced, thereby reducing pain.
- Back braces – braces can add stability to your spine when you suffer from strains, sprains, or degenerative conditions. Braces can be used as a preventative measure when doing strenuous physical activity, or they can support your spine as it heals from an injury.
- TENS – TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation,” which is the method of using a portable electrical stimulator to reduce pain by blocking the brain’s ability to receive pain signals from the nervous system.
Choosing More Targeted Treatment Methods
Conservative, nonsurgical treatments like hot therapy, cold therapy, back braces and TENS therapy may prove completely effective in managing your neck and back pain. You can also try these treatments in conjunction with others, such as pain medication, yoga, mild massage, and behavior modification. If pain persists, your physician may prescribe you pain medications like analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some patients have also found epidural steroid injections to be effective.
If your neck or back pain lasts for longer than three months despite conservative treatment, your doctor may suggest surgery. . Keep in mind that there are a variety of surgical options, so be sure to get all the facts about both minimally invasive procedures and traditional open spine operations. When talking to a surgeon, understand that successful surgery may be defined differently. His or her definition of success may mean that the wound healed, you had no infection, or a boney fusion occurred. The patient’s definition generally means that he or she can resume his or her normal life just as though no disability or pain had existed. Make certain you know what to expect, what the standards of success are, the possible complications and the likelihood of each complication.