Dealing With Chronic Back Pain


Back pain, no matter the formal diagnosis, or what part of the back it affects, can be physically debilitating. Back pain can make daily living a challenge, especially when the last thing you even want to think about is getting out of bed or up off the couch. Back pain comes in many unpleasant varieties, and can cause different types of pain. While prescription medication may work for some forms of back pain, surgical intervention may be the only option for others. In this article we will discuss the many types of reasons for back pain, as well as how they can be diagnosed and what type of treatment would cause the best possible results.

Fortunately certain types of back pain are mild and will resolve itself with rest and conservative forms of treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications. But there are quite a few that require physical therapy, prescription medication, chiropractic care and finally surgery.

Muscle strain

Muscle strains are the most common of all forms of back pain. And while some muscle strains can be particularly painful, they do tend to resolve within a few weeks with rest and conservative forms of treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications.

Herniated or Ruptured Disc

This type of back pain occurs when the disc moves or is pushed outside of its normal disc space. As a result, surrounding nerves may become pinched. Symptoms of a herniated or ruptured disc may include but are not limited to feelings of weakness, numbness and/or tingling, and pain described as electric shock-like sensations. Diagnosis is often made upon physical examination. If herniation cannot be proved conclusively, other diagnostics such as x-ray or MRI may help to make a positive determination. The following treatment modalities may be recommended for this type of pain: Application of ice and heat on affected area, anti-inflammatory medication, courses of physical therapy and oral or injected steroids

Spinal stenosis

This condition most often occurs in conjunction with the aging process. Spinal stenosis occurs when the area around the spinal cord begins to narrow, resulting in nerve compression. Symptoms associated with this condition include pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. Spinal stenosis is diagnosed by x-ray, MRI and CT scan. Treatment may consist of short courses of physical therapy to strengthen back muscles and help to improve posture, weight loss, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids and epidural injections. Spinal surgery is recommended if these modalities fail to alleviate pain.


Arthritis is a condition that commonly affects different joints in the body. Arthritis of the spine means that the facet joints that separate each vertebra have been affected. As a result, flexibility, mobility and general range of motion may be limited and produce pain. Symptoms of arthritis affecting the spine may include pain and stiffness upon rising out of bed or sitting in a chair. Treatment of this condition includes physical therapy, weight loss, anti-inflammatory medications, applications of ice and heat, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage and epidural injections. Spinal fusion may be recommended if none of the more conservative forms of treatment improve this condition to the point where it is no longer affecting your quality of life.


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