You should never have to learn to tolerate your chronic back pain. Back pain is one of the leading health issues, affecting millions of people each year. Dealing with chronic back pain on your own can significantly reduce your quality of life. You’ll likely be unable to do the activities you used to love for fear of pain and discomfort getting in the way. Likewise, you’ll have to constantly plan your life around your back pain, rather than live a normal, happy, healthy life.
If left untreated, chronic back pain can worsen and become debilitating, eventually leaving you unable to perform daily tasks without experiencing some sort of pain or discomfort. However, pain management provides the ability to take back your life and better manage your back pain. Not all back pain is the same. Pain management follows this belief and provides patients with customized care with countless treatment options so back pain sufferers can receive the right treatment for their unique needs.
In this article, you’ll learn more about what pain management is and how pain management doctors can help you better manage your back pain to get back to doing the things you love.
What is Pain Management
Pain management draws from various psychological and physiological perspectives to better understand pain and how to treat pain, such as chronic back pain. Specifically, pain management studies pain and works to learn how to prevent, diagnose, and effectively treat pain.
Pain management draws from a multidisciplinary approach. This means pain management uses a variety of specialties that can be effectively used to treat back pain. From psychiatry, anesthesiology, physical therapy, and more, pain management uses all of these specialties to provide tailored care to treat back pain, or any other form of chronic pain.
How Pain Management Can Help Back Pain
Pain management uses countless techniques to provide back pain relief. Pain management includes a series of both non-surgical and surgical treatment options. However, it’s important to understand that pain management is different than simply providing surgical treatment options.
While pain management’s main objective is to effectively treat your pain so you can get back to leading a happy, healthy life. This means pain management employs several non-surgical techniques first before considering more intensive surgical options to treat your pain.
Pain management for back pain consists of attempting to identify the source or cause of the pain, providing nonsurgical treatment options to manage your pain, attempting surgical options if noninvasive treatment is ineffective, and rehabilitating the patient post-surgery so they can have an efficient recovery.
Diagnosis of Back Pain
One of the first steps in pain management is diagnosing the source or cause of the pain. While in some cases the cause may be unknown, attempting to identify the source of the pain can help pain specialists better understand and guide your back pain treatment options.
Pain specialists evaluate your pain through a series of tests. The doctor will observe your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, and other physical functions. Your doctor may also ask how severe your pain is on a scale of 1 to 10 to get a better sense of the severity of your pain.
If the cause of the back pain is unknown, your pain specialist doctor may run a series of tests to better understand the source of your pain.
Some tests your pain specialist may run may include:
• CT scan
• Blood tests
• Nerve studies
The main objective of potentially undergoing all these tests is to better understand your back pain to then provide effective treatment options to treat your unique case of back pain.
Pain Management Treatment Options for Chronic Back Pain
After your doctor has assessed your pain, a customized treatment plan will be created to specifically target your unique needs.
Nonsurgical treatment options are often used first to manage your pain. If these nonsurgical options are unsuccessful at treating your pain, surgical treatment options may be recommended by your doctor to provide pain relief.
Nonsurgical Pain Management for Back Pain
Pain management involves several nonsurgical techniques to better manage chronic pain. Below are some common nonsurgical techniques your pain specialist may try to relieve your back pain.
Medications can be used to provide relief for back pain. Several medications that may be prescribed to manage your chronic back pain include:
• Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are often used first to see if they can provide any relief. If ineffective, your provider may prescribe you stronger NSAIDs to relieve your pain.
• Muscle Relaxants: Muscle relaxants are used to treat muscle spasms and may be recommended if pain relievers do not help.
• Topical Pain Relievers: Topical treatments like creams, ointments, and patches may be recommended to provide pain relief through your skin.
• Narcotics: If the above medications are unsuccessful, opioids may be prescribed by your doctor for a short time to provide pain relief.
• Antidepressants: Antidepressants are another type of medication that has been found to provide relief for back pain.
Physical therapy is another common nonsurgical treatment method that can be used to treat back pain. Certain exercises used to strengthen and stretch your back and improve your posture may be recommended.
Injections can be used in specific areas of the joints, ligaments, muscles, and/or nerves that may be causing you pain and discomfort. While injections only temporarily relieve your pain, they can provide effective, lasting relief (for months and even years!) so you can get back to doing the activities you love free of pain and discomfort.
Epidural steroid injections are a common type of injectable treatment option for back pain. This involves the injectable being administered straight into the spinal nerves to temporarily block pain signals to the brain.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive back pain treatment that involves using radio-frequency energy to deaden/disrupt nerves causing you pain and prevent those painful nerve signals to be sent to the brain.
Behavioral methods like cognitive therapy can be used to help teach the patient how to manage their pain through practicing a series of relaxation techniques and coping strategies.
Alternative medicines may also be recommended by your pain specialist to try and better manage your pain.
Examples of alternative treatments that can help with chronic back pain include:
• Chiropractic care
Surgical Pain Management for Back Pain
Surgery can provide effective relief for chronic pain sufferers. Although surgery is certainly not the first treatment option a pain specialist will try to relieve your pain, if several nonsurgical treatment options are ineffective at relieving your pain, surgery may be recommended.
While surgery can be costly and riskier than the above nonsurgical options, surgery can be extremely effective at treating back pain and can provide you with a happier, healthier life free from pain.
There are various minimally invasive and intensive, open surgical options to treat back pain. Common surgical treatment options pain specialists may recommend include the below.
Surgically Implanted Electrotherapy Devices
This involves getting an implantable spinal cord stimulator or implantable peripheral nerve stimulator. It’s important to note there are not many current findings to support the effectiveness of this procedure on back pain, and this procedure can be quite costly.
Implantable Opioid Infusion Pumps
Implantable opioid infusion pumps are surgically implanted pumps that administer opioid agents into the spinal cord. This procedure can also be expensive, and the actual effectiveness of this procedure in treating back pain is split.
Other back surgery options that may be recommended by your doctor for your back pain may include:
• Disk Replacement
• Interlaminar Implant
Inevitably, the type of surgery will depend on your specific case and condition. While back surgery is largely unknown in terms of whether it will treat your back pain, it is worth considering, especially if the severity of your back pain is greatly affecting your quality of life.
Pain Management Specialists Provide Comprehensive Pain Relief
Pain management specialists are more than doctors who provide medication or recommend surgical treatment options. A pain specialist doctor draws from a variety of disciplines to provide patients with the safest, most effective treatment options possible to relieve their chronic pain, whether it be back pain or another form of chronic pain.
If you are looking for a team of back pain doctors Maryland, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, look no further than the Pain and Spine specialists. Dr. Rao and our team of advanced pain specialists offer comprehensive care for customized back treatment Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Contact us today so we can help you better manage your back pain to get back to living a normal, healthy life.
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