It is important to understand and consider all factors — including additional costs — as you discuss treatment options with your provider. When it comes to treatment for back pain, surgery is not your only option. Many alternative treatments and self-care options are as effective, less invasive and less expensive.
Rest and pain relief
Doctors usually prescribe bed rest for up to two days and pain-killing medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In some cases, corticosteroids, given either as a pill or injection around the spinal nerves, or muscle relaxants may be needed.
It is important for people with backaches to remain active. Long-term, prolonged bed rest may actually delay healing and is no longer recommended.
Be careful not to perform movements that cause pain or discomfort. Your doctor may suggest a back brace or neck collar to limit movement and ease the pressure on sensitive nerves while the disk heals. In severe cases, full or partial traction may be needed.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment given with a device that applies a small electrical current to critical points along the path of a nerve. It is unclear why or how it works.
TENS is not painful and may be effective therapy to mask pain from conditions such as diabetic neuropathy.
TENS for chronic low back pain is not effective and cannot be recommended, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) now says. Some spine surgeons consider the use of TENS for any back-pain management controversial.
Massage may reduce low back pain, especially when combined with exercises and other back care treatment
AcupunctureSome patients have reported significant relief with acupuncture treatment.
Please visit these resources for more information:
Understanding Spinal Disk Problems -- Diagnosis and Treatment, 2009, WebMD.
Back surgery: When is it a good idea?. 1998-2010. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).
Low Back Pain. May 2009. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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