Lower back pain is common in adults. For many, an episode of back pain is mild and resolves quickly. In some cases, it progresses and can have a major impact on a person’s ability to function.
Back pain is considered chronic when it lasts over three months and is associated with a greatly diminished quality of life.
What Causes Chronic Lower Back Pain?
Chronic lower back pain is often age-related. It can be due to a decrease in the strength and elasticity of muscles and ligaments, a prior injury, or as the result of an underlying disease. Common causes include:
- Arthritis affecting the spinal joints
- Bulging or herniated disks
- A narrowing of the spinal canal, or spinal stenosis
- Unexplained muscle pain and tenderness
The Role of Medications and Surgery
Medications like anti-inflammatories are frequently taken to eliminate the pain and inflammation associated with low back pain. However, most medicines have unwanted side effects and are not intended for prolonged use.
Surgical procedures come with risks. The decision to consider back surgery should come only after trying non-surgical, conservative options for back pain relief.
Avoiding Surgery and Medications for Lower Back Pain
Physical therapy, exercise, and activity modification are at the foundation of chronic back pain treatment. They can be tailored to specific symptoms and conditions.
Physical therapy for chronic back pain is an excellent way to:
- Strengthen core muscles in the back to increase body stability
- Engage in stretching and flexibility exercises to increase mobility
- Encourage proper posture
- Encourage proper moving and lifting
A massage may help back pain caused by tense or overworked muscles. Massage therapy can be utilized as a regular part of maintaining wellness and can provide temporary relief from lower back pain.
Another avenue for pain relief is injection-based procedures. Injections are given when the source of pain is known., They can sometimes be used to identify or rule out causes. Injections are often used along with physical therapy to improve or maintain spinal mobility and stability.
The most common types of injections include:
- Nerve blocks
A local anesthetic is injected close to a targeted nerve or group of nerves to lessen pain.
- Epidural steroid injections
A cortisone, or steroid solution, is delivered to the spine reducing nerve swelling and inflammation.
- Facet joint injections
An anesthetic is placed into and around the facet joints. Facet joints are the small joints located between each vertebra on the back of the spine. These injections are often used when pain is caused by arthritic conditions or injury.
- Sacroiliac Joint Injection
An anesthetic is injected where the spine connects to the pelvis and can be utilized to diagnose or treat lower back pain.
- Nerve ablations
A portion of the nerve tissue is removed or destroyed causing a disruption of pain signals and decreasing pain in the affected area. Nerve ablations can provide lasting lower back pain relief.
Spinal injections are usually administered in an outpatient setting, meaning patients go home on the same day. They are generally safe procedures and provide non-surgical treatment options for back pain relief.
Don’t live with chronic lower back pain any longer – Schedule an appointment today.