Non-Surgical Approaches To Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common complaint across genders and ages. Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a specific type of back pain typically caused by the general wear and tear that comes with age. However, often enough, arthritis is a driving factor. Although many individuals think of the condition as only impacting the lower back, the reality is that the diagnosis can also include pain in the legs, which is also known as sciatica. Surgery is a solution for some people, but often, starting with non-surgical treatments can provide relief.

Physical therapy and weight loss

Certain lifestyle choices can contribute to lower back pain. Specifically, being overweight creates added pressure on joints, including the spine. Often, the first treatment solution a physician will recommend is weight loss. However, shedding pounds alone may not be enough. Physical therapy (PT) can teach proper posture and help patients boost mobility through gentle, low-impact stretches and exercises. Likewise, supportive devices like lumbosacral corsets can reduce discomfort.

Medications can help

Depending on the severity of the pain, some patients may be told to try medication. Such options can range from over-the-counter (OTC) drugs found in pharmacies to stronger painkillers that require a prescription. Pain relief solutions can also include topical treatments that contain menthol, lidocaine, camphor, and even capsaicin. However, research suggests that such solutions benefit individuals with radicular symptoms more.

Injections for pain relief

If weight loss, PT, and medications aren’t providing significant relief, injections may be an alternative. Typically, such a treatment is administered through an epidural, which is essentially medication delivered directly through the spine. Yet, research suggests that spinal injections are only beneficial in select individuals suffering from specific types of LSS. Likewise, the severity of the case can also influence outcomes.

Avoid high-impact activities

Unsurprisingly, engaging in jarring motions that place unnecessary strain on the lumbar region is not advisable for individuals with LSS. Exercise is good, but not all activities are considered equal. Avoiding playing contact sports, as well as high-impact exercise like running, jogging, jumping, or even long walks, can help reduce use-related discomfort.

Alternative therapies

In some cases, individuals may turn to alternative therapies to supplement existing non-surgical treatment methods. Such solutions can include acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. Evidence is mixed on the effectiveness of alternative treatments, but some individuals find such modalities helpful in addition to undergoing physician-recommended care.

Nerve stimulation

Formally known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), the method relies on small electrical charges delivered by a device. Every charge works to relax the muscles and numb the nerves to minimize or prevent pain signals from being transmitted.

Create an effective pain management plan

Individuals suffering from LSS should work with a healthcare professional to create an effective pain management plan that aims to reduce back pain. Various non-surgical options are effective in reducing pain and can help people of all ages avoid surgery. If LSS is impacting the quality of life, consider asking a physician about non-surgical spinal decompression.