Ways to Treat Chronic Back Pain Without Surgery

Back pain is a common ailment many people will experience in life, but sometimes that pain persists and doesn’t seem to go away. Back pain is typically considered chronic when its duration persists for three months or more. The pain can come and go with some individuals experiencing periods of temporary relief. Managing chronic back pain can be particularly challenging, especially when the underlying cause is unclear.

Treating chronic back pain without surgery typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, non-invasive therapies, and alternative treatments. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional about a diagnosis before starting any new treatment.

Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain can have various causes, and identifying the specific origin can be crucial for effective treatment. Some common causes of chronic back pain include:

Muscle or Ligament Strain: Overuse or improper use of the muscles and ligaments in the back can lead to strains, contributing to chronic pain.

Herniated Disc: The rubbery discs that cushion the spine’s bones can rupture or bulge, putting pressure on nerves and causing persistent back pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease: The natural aging process can result in the breakdown of spinal discs, leading to chronic pain.

Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal can put pressure on the nerves, causing chronic back pain. This condition is often associated with aging.

Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of the cartilage between the vertebrae can lead to osteoarthritis, causing chronic pain and stiffness in the back.

Scoliosis: Abnormal curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis, can contribute to chronic back pain.

Inflammatory Conditions: Conditions like ankylosing spondylitis or rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in the spine, leading to persistent pain.

Injuries: Traumatic injuries, such as fractures or accidents, can cause chronic back pain, especially if not healed properly.

Poor Posture: Incorrect posture, whether during sitting, standing, or lifting, can strain the back and contribute to chronic pain over time.

Obesity: Excess weight can put additional stress on the spine, leading to chronic pain.

Genetic Factors: Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to conditions that cause chronic back pain.

Occupational Factors: Certain occupations that involve heavy lifting, repetitive movements, or prolonged sitting may contribute to chronic back pain.

Treatments for Chronic Back Pain

It is vital to understand the cause of your pain and explore all reasonable options available. Individuals experiencing back pain should not feel obligated to undergo an invasive and irreversible surgical procedure. While surgery can be beneficial for many, it is typically considered a final recourse after exhausting less invasive alternatives. Surgical interventions aim to correct structural abnormalities contributing to back pain; however, there is no guarantee of pain relief, and in some cases, it can even worsen the condition, resulting in more pain.

When the source of pain is unknown or untreatable, the optimal approach involves collaborating with your healthcare provider on a pain management plan. This plan should aim to diminish the severity and frequency of flare-ups while focusing on functional goals and improving overall quality of life. Co-founder of Midwest Anesthesia and Pain Specialists (MAPS), Thomas Pontinen, MD, LCP-C shared some key steps to minimize chronic back pain without surgery.

Strengthening Core Muscles with Exercise and Physical Therapy

Your core is a huge factor when it comes to back pain. “Good posture engages the muscles that support the spine,” says Pontinen. “When these muscles are strong and active, they provide better support and alignment to the spine, reducing the risk of back pain.”

Regular low-impact aerobic exercises incorporated into your daily routine are a great way to strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. Gentle stretching and yoga can enhance flexibility and promote relaxation, potentially relieving back pain.

However, it’s important to choose exercises that are appropriate for your condition. If you don’t know where to start, a physical therapist can design a customized exercise program to strengthen the core muscles, improve flexibility, and correct posture.

Ergonomic Changes

If your job requires you to sit for long periods, this could be compromising your posture and ultimately causing chronic back pain. Dr. Pontinen shared that “Extended periods of sitting can adversely affect your back and neck, particularly if you tend to slouch.”

Pontinen suggests that incorporating ergonomic furniture can effectively promote good posture and minimize slouching. Additionally, it’s important to position your computer monitor at eye level to prevent prolonged periods of looking up or down, which can strain the neck and upper back.

Lifestyle and Diet Changes

In addition to exercise, other lifestyle changes can help you reduce back pain. Pontinen suggests eating a balanced diet of anti-inflammatory whole foods. Inflammation in our bodies can cause a plethora of health issues and may even be causing chronic back pain. Not to mention, maintaining a healthy weight reduces the load on the spine, which can alleviate back pain. If you’re a smoker, you may want to try to quit. Smoking can impair blood flow to the spine and inhibit the body’s ability to heal, potentially contributing to chronic back pain.

Injection-Based Treatments

Individuals struggling with chronic back pain can achieve fast relief through injection-based therapy. This form of treatment involves delivering localized, immediate anti-inflammatory pain relief medication directly to the specific area causing discomfort. By administering these injections, swelling is minimized, and pressure on the affected region is alleviated.

Other Minimally Invasive Therapies

Medical facilities like MAPS offer alternative minimally invasive interventions for pain relief that do not involve surgery. Instead of solely addressing symptoms through medication, these procedures use cutting-edge medical technology to intercept pain signals before they reach the brain. Some of these options include:

  • Radiofrequency Ablation
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation
  • Kyphoplasty
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Lumbar Sympathetic Block
  • Disc Decompression
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 19, 2024

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