Back pain is one of the most common health complaints we face as a country, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. The lower back is the area most often affected.
Back pain may go away on its own after a few days or weeks, however, that is unfortunately not always the case; back pain can become a chronic condition for many sufferers. Low-back pain can be debilitating, and significantly affect one’s quality of life.
At Chicago Sports and Spine, we see & treat patients in a variety of stages of back pain. Sometimes, surgery is the best solution to their ailments. However, oftentimes there are steps we can take to help them manage their pain and heal their bodies in ways that avoid surgery, while still providing relief and improving quality of life.
The main goals for managing back pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) usually are:
- To provide adequate pain relief to enable patients to actively participate in their physical therapy and rehabilitation programs to heal and improve conditions
- To maintain a patient’s ability to function at home and at work and continue with their lives as normal, without pain
- To prevent further injury or stress to the spine through improved posture
There are several non-surgical options for back pain treatment of the lumbar spine available to our patients. The more common treatment approaches include:
- Pain Medication: Each type of pain or muscle relaxant medication has upsides and downsides and come with associated risks, which we evaluate along with the patient’s medical history. Pain medication is, however, not the only solution available.
- Heat or Cold: Application of a cold pack or heating pad can effectively treat back pain. Some of our patients find that alternating between hot and cold provides the most satisfying relief.
- Physical Therapy: A program of back exercises will usually include a combination of low impact exercise, strengthening moves, and often stretching to improve mobility.
- Manual Manipulation: It’s important to note that this should only be done by a qualified health professional, like the doctors here at Chicago Sports and Spine. Practitioners perform spinal manipulation by using their hands or a medical device to apply pressure to a joint of the spine.
Here at Chicago Sports and Spine, some other non-surgical methods we suggest for any back pain that doesn’t respond to the above are:
- Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI): This is a minimally invasive procedure that can help relieve neck, arm, back, and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves due to spinal stenosis or disc herniation.
- Facet Rhizotomy Injection: The purpose of a facet rhizotomy injection is to provide lasting low back pain relief by disabling the sensory nerve that goes to the facet joint. During this procedure, a needle with a probe is inserted outside the affected joint. The probe is then heated with radio waves and applied to the sensory nerve to the joint in order to disable the nerve. By performing this action to the sensory nerve, a facet rhizotomy can prevent the pain signals from getting to the brain.
- Acupuncture: This practice began in China more than 2,500 years ago. It involves inserting thin needles at certain points on the body. Stimulating these points is said to improve the flow of energy in the body and increase the production of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. This can relieve back pain for patients.
There are also lifestyle changes that can make a difference when done consistently:
- Using a standing desk or taking several brief walks instead of sitting for long periods of time
- Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet curated by your health-care professional can help to improve the inner workings of your back and reduce pain
- Starting a stretching routine at home in addition to a physical therapy regimen can help to increase the effectiveness of your long-term care plan
At Chicago Sports and Spine we specialize in creating treatment plans that help you regain your normal lifestyle-free of pain. We invite you to schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about some of the conditions and treatments at Chicago Sports and Spine.