If you’re living with chronic back pain, relief may seem out of reach. It’s perfectly natural to feel frustrated if you’re finding it difficult to work, exercise, drive or complete your usual household tasks, especially if you’re already taking anti-inflammatory medications, exercising and using other treatments. However, there are quite a few options for relieving back pain, and you’re likely to find an effective treatment plan if you are persistent.
Initial treatment options
The most commonly recommended treatment options for back pain relief include:
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
- Ice packs and heating pads applied directly to the site of the pain
- Topical analgesic creams
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
Additionally, if over-the-counter medications don’t produce sufficient results, you may be advised to try prescription options, such as painkillers or muscle relaxants. You might also find it helpful to participate in physical therapy if your at-home exercise regimen doesn’t prove to be effective.
Several types of injections can be used to promote back pain relief, including trigger point injections, epidural steroid injections, sacroiliac (SI) joint injections, nerve block injections and facet joint injections. Each of these injections works in a slightly different manner, but the ultimate goal is the same: to deliver pain-relieving medications directly to a painful nerve, muscle or joint.
Some people find injections to be more effective than oral medications. Pills can be taken at home on an as-needed basis, but clinical injections have the potential to produce longer-lasting results. You might find that a single injection is all that you need, or your physician may recommend two or three injections over a period of several months. It’s worth noting, however, that most physicians advise against exceeding this frequency, as excessive injections can potentially damage the muscles and bones in the back.
Typically saved as a last resort, surgery is another option that you might consider if other methods ultimately prove to be insufficient. For instance, your physician may recommend a spinal decompression or stabilization procedure to help you achieve much-needed back pain relief. But, you’ll want to be sure not to rush into any surgery, as surgical intervention is not necessary for every individual. Your best option is to consult with an experienced physician and develop a conservative treatment plan that incorporates several nonsurgical options, then make any necessary modifications from there.