Chronic Back Pain Relief
Achieving chronic back pain relief is particularly troublesome for both the patient and the doctor. Just check out the many health blogs, and you’ll see just how great a deterrent to normal living prolonged lower back pain is. Persistent pain may lead to many time-offs from work and lost income. In those with low pain tolerance, they may develop fear anxieties that any movement or work would increase their suffering, resulting in no or minimal relief with medications and other conventional forms of treatment. Doctors, on the other hand, would find it difficult to convince their patients to engage in activities such as exercise that could help relieve chronic lower back pain. Even treatments like surgery could produce poor outcomes because the patient is depressed and believes that he or she would have to live with the pain for the rest of their life.
But, there is hope even for chronic lower back pain sufferers, as certain treatment regimens and surgery can help alleviate their suffering.
Chronic Back Pain Relief Options Include:
- Exercise: Unlike in acute back pain, exercise has been shown to provide some measure of relief for chronic lower back pain. Stretches have been particularly helpful. Another good example is the Schroth Method, a specialized exercise regimen which can reduce severity and frequency of back pain in patients with scoliosis, kyphosis, and spondylolisthesis. Running is not considered a good practice for both acute and chronic lower back pain. A high impact activity puts a lot of pressure and stress on the lower back.
- Weight loss: Losing those extra pounds reduces the load that is being carried by the lower back.
- Acupuncture: Although studies on its effectiveness in relieving chronic back pain remains contradicting, it cannot be denied, that acupuncture provides relief for individual patients.
- Meditation Techniques: Yoga and other meditation techniques help in relieving chronic back pain through gentle, but intensive muscle strengthening and toning exercises, as well as breathing techniques that could relax the mind and reduce anxieties.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants: Have been found useful for chronic back pain relief, especially in patients with accompanying anxiety disorders. Prescription of these drugs, however, must follow the guidelines set by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society in 2007.
- Transcutaneous Electric Manipulation (TENS): Acts by electrically stimulating the back in pulses through surface electrodes. Results on its effectiveness in chronic back pain sufferers are mixed. But, like acupuncture, TENS has been found to give relief to some patients.
- Spinal Manipulation: Osteopathic and chiropractic spinal manipulation is more effective in acute lower back pain. Studies on these spinal alignment correction procedures on chronic back pain patients have produced contradicting results, so its effectiveness remains controversial. Patients with pinched nerves or nerve root problems will not benefit from spinal manipulation.
For patients in whom the cause of the chronic lower back pain has been identified, pain relief is assured in 90% of cases when the underlying condition is treated.
An effective form of non-surgical treatment for chronic lower back pain is spinal decompression. Often mistaken for regular traction, spinal decompression acts not only by stretching muscles and mobilizing joints but also by creating a negative pressure that would pull bulging disc material back toward the center of the disc. The pain relief accorded by regular traction to chronic pain patients is limited to muscle stretching and joint mobilization.
Using a spinal decompression machine has been touted to treat lower back pain caused by sciatica, stenosis of the spine, disc herniation and disc degeneration.
Surgery is indicated when pain could not be relieved through conventional and other non-surgical forms of treatment, or if the patient shows any of the Red Flags, or develops neurologic symptoms such as bladder or bowel incontinence which accompanies severe central lumbar disc herniation resulting in spinal abscess or cauda equina syndrome. At present, minimally-invasive surgical techniques are being evaluated for their safety and effectiveness.
Other forms of therapy are in their experimental stages. One of these is stem cell therapy. The recent discovery of the immune system substance interleukin-17 or IL-17 in patients with degenerative or herniated disc disease has opened doors for research on immunosuppressive therapies for chronic lower back pain caused by these disorders. Indeed, there are quite some chronic back pain relief treatments being produced which could hopefully alleviate patients of these troublesome burdens on their health.