Most back pain gets better with home treatment within four weeks. If
home treatments aren't working, your doctor may suggest:
Medications and therapies
Prescription drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and
muscle relaxants may relieve mild to moderate back pain. When pain
doesn't respond to simpler measures, your doctor may advise
injecting cortisone — an anti-inflammatory medication — into the
epidural space in your back to decrease inflammation in the area
around the nerve roots.
Heat or cold.
When performed by a licensed professional, applications of heat or
cold may relieve back pain caused by muscle spasms.
A therapist can use a small device to deliver electrical stimulation
directly to the muscles of your back. This can relieve back pain
from muscle spasms and strains. You may also try transcutaneous
electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a form of electrical
stimulation that can suppress pain from sciatica, or a "pinched
nerve." In this treatment, you place small electrodes on your skin
near the area of your pain. The current isn't painful, and it may
provide pain relief.
These programs, available in many communities, focus on managing
back pain and preventing its recurrence. Classroom study generally
involves back anatomy and function, followed by practice sessions on
how to protect your back at home and work.
therapy and exercise.
A physical therapist can use treatments and can manipulate and
massage your back's tissues to reduce pain. As pain improves, you
can help prevent back pain recurrence with an exercise program that
increases your flexibility, strengthens your back and abdominal
muscles, and improves your posture.
Surgical and other procedures
Only a few people ever need surgery for back pain. Surgery is usually
reserved for certain kinds of back pain that haven't responded to more
conservative measures. If you have unrelenting pain or progressive
muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you may benefit from
surgery. Common back surgeries include:
These procedures, which involve removing part of your vertebra, may
relieve leg pain caused by bone spurs or disk fragments that
protrude into your spinal canal or press on nerve roots within your
This surgery involves joining two vertebrae to eliminate painful
movement. A variety of metal implants also are available to help
accomplish the fusion.
1 > 2 >