Back pain is one of the most prevalent problems among American adults. It accounts for accumulative months of missed days of work each year and numerous prescriptions for pain medication. These statistics suggest that we must find ways to address back pain more quickly and consistently for more patients. Here, we discuss some of the common causes of chronic back pain and several ways that the spine may be better supported.
Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain
The most common causes of chronic back pain include age-related:
- Osteoarthritis of the spine. The gradual thinning of cartilage reduces intravertebral space.
- Spinal stenosis, narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Herniated or bulging discs.
- Myofascial pain syndrome, a less common condition involving unexplained muscle pain.
Chronic back pain can develop for a number of reasons or combination thereof. Sometimes, a definitive cause cannot be identified. This is one of several reasons why it is necessary to seek at least one medical opinion from a back pain specialist. Decisions about treatment cannot be rushed and should not be made until the origin of pain can be found. Until that time, care focuses on reducing pain and preventing flare-ups.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Chronic Back Pain
- Pharmacologic treatments. Many people reach for over-the-counter pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain. Doctors, as well, tend to prescribe pain medication for patients with chronic back pain. This may be acceptable for short-term relief but does not resolve the underlying problem.
- Physical therapy. Before surgery is considered, patients are encouraged to seek physical therapy to help retrain posture, strengthen core muscles, and improve flexibility to support spinal movements. Physical therapy can achieve good results when patients commit to prescribed exercises both in and out of the therapy office.
- Relaxation techniques. Research suggests that practices such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation can help patients manage the psychological and physical aspects of chronic pain.
Minimally-invasive procedures can also provide relief from chronic back pain. Treatment like Discectomy and Neural Decompression, performed in our Tampa office, can complement modalities like physical therapy and help patients return to their normal lifestyle more quickly than spinal fusion and other surgical techniques.