Passive Treatment for Lower Back Pain
Too often we see people suffer for years, sometimes decades, of lower back pain. I have many questions when I see these patients. What treatment, if any, have they been getting and was it helpful? What kinds of things and activities help or aggravate their condition? Do they exercise? If yes, then what kind of exercise? And what are their eating habits? I also prefer seeing their X-rays, MRIs and other doctors’ reports, to get a full picture of what is the most likely causing their pain.
Pain is a fascinating, but peculiar thing. Many people with chronic back pain have no tissue damage, yet others may have various bulges, even herniations of their discs, but have little or no discomfort. In general, pain can come from bones, joints, discs, ligaments, nerves, tendons and muscles. The most common reason I see low back pain caused by degenerative disc disease; which is often difficult to treat.
Many patients find that they have to try more than one treatment, or combination of treatments, before finding sufficient pain relief to be able to complete their daily routines and maintain an exercise and fitness routine. Here are some treatments that are often prescribed for patients with low back pain:
Passive treatments for low back pain from degenerative disc disease may include:
TENS units: These devices deliver mild electrical stimulation that overrides the painful signals sent to the lower back.
Ultrasound Equipment: For acute back pain in the low back, ultrasound may be used to warm the area, which in turn brings blood flow and healing nutrients to the area.
Pain medication: Typical pain medications used to treat the low back pain include acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, and muscle relaxants. Each type of medication has strengths, limitations, and risks, and the patient’s particular low back problem and overall health will determine which pain reliever, if any, is indicated.
Chiropractic manipulation: Manual manipulation by a chiropractoror other qualified health professional is thought to provide lower back pain relief by taking pressure off sensitive neurological tissue, increasing range of motion, restoring blood flow, reducing muscle tension, and creating a series of chemical reactions in the body (such as endorphin release) that act as natural painkillers.
Epidural injections: An epidural injection into the spine delivers steroids that can provide low back pain relief by decreasing inflammation in the painful area.
Massage: Therapeutic low back massage is thought to provide low back pain relief by improving blood flow, reducing muscle stiffness, increasing range of motion, and raising endorphin levels in the body.
Some active treatments for lower back pain can include:
Exercise: For the vast majority of patients, the only way to achieve long-term healing is active exercise, which usually includes a combination of strengthening, stretching and low-impact aerobic exercise.
Quitting smoking: For patients who smoke, doctors recommend quitting smoking to improve blood circulation and healing. Chronic tobacco use is closely linked to chronic back pain in the lower back.
Weight loss: Losing weight can reduce low back pain in overweight people by lessening the amount of stress on the low back’s muscles and ligaments.
Ergonomics: Proper lifting techniques, ergonomic furniture, supportive footwear, and avoiding static posture for prolonged periods of time can help take pressure off the low back.
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