Low Back Pain Treatments
What Are the Best Treatments for Lower Back Pain?
Once your doctor diagnoses the spine condition that's causing your low back pain, he or she can develop a treatment plan for you. For the best results, you may require a combination of treatments. You may need to take prescription medications, do physical therapy, and get regular massages, for example.
Both the severity and cause of your low back pain will help your doctor determine which treatments will work for you. Medication is one of the most common treatments that can help reduce your pain, but it's generally not the solution to your low back pain.
Prescription Medications for Low Back Pain
Before your doctor prescribes you any medications, let him or her know about other medications you're currently taking—they may have harmful interactions when taken together.
- Muscle relaxants: These medications are used to relax tense muscles. If you have chronic low back pain caused by muscle spasms, muscle relaxants can stop the spasms.
- Anti-depressants: By blocking pain messages from getting to your brain, anti-depressants can be an effective treatment for chronic low back pain.
- Opioids: In extreme situations and under a doctor's careful supervision, opioids, such as morphine, can be used to help manage your chronic pain.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Low Back Pain
In addition to prescription medications, there are also a couple of over-the-counter medications that can help reduce your low back pain. These may be useful if you have acute pain.
- Acetaminophen: This medication can be used to help relieve your pain, but it won't reduce inflammation. Tylenol is one example of acetaminophen.
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): NSAIDs are different from acetaminophen because they help reduce both inflammation and pain. Some examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen and aspirin.
Spinal Injections for Low Back Pain
As with medications, spinal injections can help provide low back pain relief.
- Epidural steroid injection: As one of the most common injections, epidural steroid injections work by delivering steroids—powerful anti-inflammatories—directly to the inflamed nerve root. You may need 2 or 3 injections, but you shouldn't have any more than that because of steroid's side effects.
- Other injections: Your doctor may recommend another type of injection (eg, facet joint injection), depending on your spine condition.
Other Treatments for Low Back Pain
Other than medications and spinal injections, there are a variety of other treatments that can address your low back pain.
- Chiropractic care can help treat your low back pain and prevent it from getting worse.
- Physical therapy uses an array of techniques to provide pain relief, including hot and cold therapies.
- Spinal bracing is another treatment option that can help control back pain by stabilizing your spine and limiting extreme motions. This is a useful treatment if you've had a spinal fracture, for example.
- Moderate exercise, such as light walking and stretching, is another useful way to reduce low back pain. Exercise can keep your back healthy and strong and can help you manage your pain or prevent it from getting worse.
- Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and regular massages, can also relieve muscle inflammation and pain.
If all other treatments are unsuccessful, you may consider spine surgery to address your low back pain. Today, there are many surgery options—minimally invasive spine surgery, for example—to help address your pain. Ultimately, the decision to have spine surgery is up to you, but your doctor can help you make this decision.
As always, discuss all of your low back pain treatment options with your doctor before beginning any treatment plan.