Chronic back pain treatment

Chronic back pain is back pain that lasts more than three months. If this describes your condition, taking early action may improve your quality of life and relieve your pain. The goal of chronic back pain management is to reduce symptoms until they no longer interfere with your daily activities. This process begins with education and a proper diagnosis, followed by a personalized treatment plan.

Diagnosing your condition

If your pain is ongoing, make a journal detailing the pain and symptoms. Next, consult a physician. Your physician will ask you to describe the nature of your back pain. Use the journal you have created to accurately describe about your condition. Some questions to keep in mind include: Is your pain in the lower, middle or upper spinal region? Does the pain feel sharp and radiating? Do you experience loss of feeling or loss of motor functions? Which daily activities are hardest for you to perform?

After gathering your history, your physician should perform a thorough examination. You may be sent for imaging tests — like an X-ray, a CT scan or an MRI — which will help reveal the exact location of the spinal condition causing the pain. A correct diagnosis is crucial to prescribing an effective treatment.

Chronic pain management

Once your physician has provided a diagnosis, he or she can begin discussing treatment options for your chronic back pain management. Primary care physicians often refer chronic pain patients to a physician specializing in chronic pain management. Pain management is an area of medicine that offers specialized ways to reduce discomfort — especially discomfort that has lasted more than a few weeks.

Pain management techniques often begin with nonsurgical techniques, but if they are ineffective at providing relief, patients may advance to back pain treatments like acupuncture, medication, injections and surgery.

Chronic back pain management may begin with the following treatments:

  • Physical therapy and exercise — This includes mild stretching and muscle-building exercises aimed at increasing mobility and endurance. This often reduces stress in painful spinal regions.
  • Spinal adjustments and massage therapy — This involves manipulating painful areas of the spine to help adjust spinal components (e.g., vertebrae, discs and muscles) to improve mobility, separate the vertebrae, increase blood flow and reduce pressure on nerves.
  • Behavior modification — Your physician can teach you proper posture, lifting techniques and body mechanics that can reduce pain. You may also benefit from learning relaxation techniques like meditation breathing exercises.
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications — This includes over-the-counter or prescription medications, like muscle relaxants, narcotic pain medications, oral steroids or acetaminophen.
  • Steroid injections — These are commonly known as an “epidural” because the injection is delivered in the epidural space; a steroid injection can help to temporarily relieve inflammation in the spine.

Minimally invasive spine surgery

If these chronic pain management treatments have not relieved your back pain, your physician may suggest surgery. Traditional open spine surgery is usually the last option because it is the most invasive and carries the most risk — but there is an alternative. Minimally invasive spine surgery holds many advantages over open neck or back procedures.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients find pain relief from their degenerative spine conditions. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that use a smaller incision in an outpatient setting with no lengthy recovery.^

For more information about how our team of surgeons may be able to help you recover your spinal health, contact us for your no-cost MRI review* — you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.