Lower Back Pain Treatments
Medications, Physical Therapy, and Surgery
Try Non-surgical Treatment First for Lower Back Pain
Most patients with lower back pain (lumbar spine) are treated without surgery. A conventional treatment plan may include bed rest for a day or two combined with medication to reduce inflammation and pain. Medications recommended by the physician are based on the patient's medical condition, age, other drugs the patient currently takes, and safety.
Medications for Lower Back Pain
The first choice for pain relief is often non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset and stomach bleeding.
Muscle relaxants may provide relief from muscle spasm but are actually benign sedatives, which often cause drowsiness.
Opioid pain relievers are sometimes prescribed for use during the acute phase.
Physical Therapy: Helping You Recover from Lower Back Pain
Physical therapy (PT) is started as soon as the patient can tolerate activity. A managed PT program can help build muscle strength, flexibility, improve mobility, coordination, stability, balance, and promotes relaxation.
Patients who participate in a structured physical therapy program often progress to wellness more rapidly than those who do not. This includes low back maintenance through a home exercise program developed for the patient by the physical therapist.
PT may include ice therapy to slow nerve conduction thereby decreasing inflammation and pain.
Heat treatments may be used to accelerate soft tissue repair. Heat increases blood flow and speeds up the metabolic rate to assist healing. Heat also helps decrease muscle spasm, pain, and promotes a relaxed feeling.
Ultrasound is a treatment used to deliver heat deep into soft tissues. Sometimes a heat treatment is given prior to a session of therapeutic exercise.
Will You Need Spine Surgery?
Seldom is surgery required to treat low back pain. Surgery may be considered if you are experiencing:
- bowel or bladder dysfunction
- increased nerve impairment
- progressive weakness
- incapacitating pain
- spinal instability.
The surgical procedure depends on the diagnosis or the cause of low back pain. Your spine surgeon will thoroughly explain to you your surgery options.
Read our article just on lower back pain surgery.
Your Low Back Pain Treatment Plan
Your doctor will create a treatment plan just for you, based on your diagnosis, other medical conditions, and overall health. It may include the treatments discussed above and/or other treatments. Before trying any new treatment, be sure to ask as many questions as you'd like in order to understand the treatment goals and how it should work. Working with your doctor, you may be able to reduce your lower back pain.