Nonsurgical Options for Back Pain Relief

Nonsurgical Options for Back Pain Relief

The spine is one of the body's most important musculoskeletal structures. It maintains posture and provides support while sitting, standing, walking, and running. An injury or medical condition that affects the spine may cause back pain. When left untreated, pain usually increases in severity-potentially reaching the point where a patient is no longer able to do the things they love or perform movements required for daily living.

Advancements in spine surgery have shed public light on the effectiveness of new minimally invasive spine procedures; however, surgery is not the only treatment option used to treat back pain. In fact, the majority of cases of back pain are effectively treated when patients adhere to the nonsurgical treatment plan prescribed by their orthopedic specialist. In most cases, a treatment plan will include a combination of medicine, physical therapy, and activity modification.


Commonly prescribed medications include the following:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - Oral and topical medications that decrease inflammation and pain. Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. When over-the-counter NSAIDs provide little to no pain relief, a higher dose of the medication is available in prescription form.
  2. Corticosteroids - Powerful oral or injectable medications. By quickly decreasing swelling, inflammation, and pain, corticosteroids offer patients short-term relief from back pain while the injury or condition that is causing the pain is resolved.
  3. Antidepressants - Medications that decrease pain by improving mood and well being. Usually, antidepressants are used to treat unresolved chronic pain that does not respond to other treatment options.

For many patients, medications are used to control their symptoms so they can participate in a physical therapy program.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist is a trained medical professional who creates a treatment program with the goals of decreasing pain, improving strength and preventing future injuries/conditions. Treatment options a physical therapist may include in a treatment plan include the following:

  1. Passive therapy treatments - Treatments that are performed on the patient. Heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are all examples.
  2. Active therapy treatments - Stretching and strengthening exercises. An active therapy plan is always tailored to the patient's condition and activity level.

While continuously monitoring patients' condition and progress, a physical therapist provides patients with individual attention and is able to make activity medication recommendations that will help speed up recovery.

Activity Modification

Slowing down, stopping, or altering activities that cause pain is called activity modification. Some of the most common activities that cause back pain include the following:

  • Working on a computer or using a mobile phone for a prolonged period of time
  • Walking or hiking with an overloaded backpack
  • Lifting heavy objects improperly
  • Impact sports
  • Running or walking with improper footwear
  • Over exercising

Simple changes in the frequency of these activities and/or the technique with which these activities are performed ensure that healing will occur and pain will not return.

Seeking Treatment

Back pain that does not go away on its own should always be treated by an orthopedic spine specialist. Their knowledge, skills, and experience allow them to determine exactly what is causing the pain and come up with a treatment plan to address it. In most cases, back pain goes away using nonsurgical treatment options such as the ones mentioned in this post. If you or someone you know is looking for a back pain relief solution, please contact our office to make an appointment.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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