ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Alleviate Bad Back Pain

Updated on July 20, 2018
Source

9 out of 10 adults experience back pain at some point in their life. Lower back pain is the 5th most frequent reason people visit a physician.

Treatments for back pain can be divided into medical and non-medical categories. Whether you are experiencing acute (less than 3 months) or chronic back pain (more than 3 months), you would be wise to seek out a doctor that can accurately determine the source of the pain (muscle, nerve, bone, tendon, ligament, or joint) and who will create an individualized, multi-faceted treatment plan that does not simply incorporate prescriptions and/or surgeries.

Back pain treatments include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Surgery
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Physical Therapy
  • Chiropractic Treatment
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often prescribed to back pain sufferers and is an excellent adjunct to other treatments. Physical therapists (PTs) help people with back pain improve the muscle strength that supports the injured area and help identify, correct, or prevent movements that could cause more pain or disability. PTs teach you how to keep your back and stomach muscles strong, use good posture, and learn the safest way to lift heavy objects. PT may include massage therapy.

PTs normally design an individualized program for your particular area and cause of pain, as previously determined by your physician.

Physical therapy can continue as long as needed.

Source
Source

Electric Nerve Stimulation

Found to be more effective than surgery, counterirritation involves stimulating pain in one area of the body to reduce pain in another. Spinal stimulation has proven quite effective in reducing back pain in many patients. Often a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is used. The TENS unit is applied near the painful area of the back or where the nerve fibers of the painful area enter the spinal cord. The person in pain adjusts the voltage and frequency. When used correctly, the TENS unit produces a feeling of numbness in the pain area.

More invasive is stimulation-produced analgesia (SPA). SPA involves delivery of electrical impulses via electrodes implanted directly in the areas of the brain known to be rich in opioid receptors. Patients self-administer the electrical impulse, stimulating endorphin neurons that activate the brain's natural analgesia system. The benefits of SPA include its effectiveness, lack of disruption of other senses, and lack of confusion that often occurs with opioid analgesia.

Source

Guided Imagery

Unlike visualization, guided imagery uses all of a person's senses to promote a change in their perceptions. Guided imagery is actually a form of self-hypnosis, involving focused concentration and attention. It involves relaxation techniques and mental rehearsal, where the patient imagines a surgery or treatment, thereby ridding themselves of unrealistic fantasies about the potential pain or side effects.

Used mostly with those experiencing low to moderate levels of back pain, the process involves teaching the patient relaxation techniques, wherein they can divert their attention from pain to other mental pictures.

Source

Prescriptions

Besides muscle relaxants and epidural steroid shots, analgesics are the basic go-to drug for back pain management. They are either opioid (like morphine), which are central acting, or non-opioid (like ibuprofen), which are peripherally acting chemicals that focus their pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties at the actual site of the pain.

Nonopioid Analgesics

Nonopioid analgesics include aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, also called NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs work by blocking a chemical chain reaction that is triggered during an injury. NSAIDs prevent the production of prostaglandin, which sensitizes spinal neurons to pain.

The benefits of NSAIDs are that they produce pain reduction (for low-grade pain) without sedation, and they reduce inflammation. However, some people can't tolerate the annoying side effects of NSAIDs (like stomach pain and intestinal issues), and some have experienced severe side effects such as liver failure from taking large doses of NSAIDs over a period of time.

Source

Opioid Analgesics

Opioid analgesics used to be called narcotics. They are actually agonists (excitatory chemicals) that act on the brain to reduce pain message intensity or the response to pain.

The most powerful and probably most widely-used prescription for severe back pain is morphine, which can be administered in a variety of ways. Basically, morphine binds to certain cells in the brain and at the back of the spinal cord to produce intense analgesia, indifference to pain, a state of relaxed euphoria, reduced apprehension, and a sense of tranquility. No wonder it is so addictive.

So, today, rather than giving one dose per day or per time period, with the patient quickly developing a tolerance, physicians that treat intense, chronic back pain may implant a small morphine pump at the site of the pain. The patient self-administers a small dose as needed.

Source

Chiropractic Treatment

Although the efficacy of chiropractic treatment is widely debated, the current status of acceptance for spinal adjustments performed by well-trained chiropractors for relief of back pain is evidenced by its wide coverage by insurance companies, including Medicaid and Medicare. Studies have shown that 1/5 of back pain sufferers have been treated successfully by chiropractors.

There are large risks, however, which may suggest that previous diagnosis of the cause of back pain be determined before seeking chiropractic care. For instance, spinal adjustments can cause severe damage if you have a spinal fracture or tumor.

Source

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

CBT aims to change a person's pain experience by changing their thought process and behaviors and lowering their stress levels. Strategies include the following:

Education and Goal-setting

CBT counselors often start with a brief course designed to explain the difference between acute and chronic pain; the mechanisms of gate control theory; and the contributions of depression, anxiety, lack of activity, and other controllable factors related to back pain. Counselors normally encourage the patient to keep a 'pain diary' that records pain frequency, duration, and intensity, medication use, and mood and activity levels. This allows the patient and counselor to discover pain patterns and develop specific and measurable goals for pain intervention.

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive interventions challenge a patient's maladaptive beliefs about their pain and redefine pain as an experience that is more manageable.

Cognitive restructuring challenges illogical beliefs such as:

  • Catastrophizing
  • Overgeneralizing
  • Victimization
  • Self-blame
  • Dwelling on the pain

Source

Surgery

Currently, back surgery is really a last resort attempt at pain control. There are so many major risks, costs, and side-effects, that results are unpredictable, are often short-lived (because our nervous system is able to regenerate, allowing transmission of pain impulses to the brain via many different pathways), and sometimes make the pain even worse.

If surgery is recommended, it is normally for lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, scoliosis, or a compression fracture. The surgeries are classified as nerve decompression, fusion of body segments, or deformity correction surgeries.

Be wary of doctors who jump immediately to this recommendation, due to the reasons stated above and due to the fact that other treatments have been proven to be more effective.

Future Back Pain Treatment

Due to the high rate of back pain and its treatment costs, research is plentiful. A few promising areas of research are described here:

  • Recently, pain researchers have discovered that many patients who suffer from chronic back pain have lower levels of endorphins in their spinal fluid. Currently, clinicians are experimenting to see if injections of synthetic endorphins (beta-endorphins) are effective. So far, most trial participants are reporting excellent, long-lasting pain relief.
  • In addition, surgeons are conducting research on ways to disrupt incoming pain messages before they reach the spinal cord and the brainstem.
  • Researchers are finding that it is possible to restore an intervertebral disc or prevent its further degeneration through biological treatments using stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow to stimulate the discs to regenerate.

Have you ever, or are you currently, experiencing severe back pain?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi LucyLiu,

      Enjoyed this article very much as both I and my partner suffer with back pain although different . His is chronic and mine comes and goes in my lower back. Thanks for showing all the different types and treatments used. Vu, useful and interesting! Nice work!

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Excellent article that I will share with my husband. Thank you for sharing this!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)