Despite being a common problem, lower back pain remains a challenging condition to treat. Many doctors will take an X-ray or other imaging to see if there are any serious problems they can treat with surgery.
If not, they often resort to treating the symptoms with various medications for pain. These may include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and others may help mild pain in short-term situations. But if your doctor doesn’t find the cause of your pain, it could become a longstanding problem. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen carry risks such as excessive bleeding and digestive problems when used for an extended period of time. Taking close to the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen for a prolonged period of time could cause liver damage for some patients. When you have chronic back pain, over-the-counter pain relievers are generally not a good solution because of these risks.
- Muscle relaxers. These are occasionally helpful for patients whose pain is caused by muscle spasms, but if you don’t find the cause of these spasms, they’re likely to return. Additionally, doctors often prescribe muscle relaxers when they aren’t sure what’s wrong, and many patients tell us that they felt no pain relief at all.
- Antidepressants. Although it surprises some people, antidepressants are sometimes used for chronic pain, especially with nerve involvement. It’s unclear exactly why, but antidepressants sometimes help relieve pain when other medications haven’t worked, possibly by interfering with pain perception in the brain or nerve signals. Unfortunately, because they work on the brain, antidepressants have a long list of potential side effects, and many people have to stop taking them.
- Anti-seizure medications. Drugs like gabapentin also act on the brain and might help reduce pain signals, but like antidepressants, they come with a number of potential side effects. These include nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, mood changes, and memory issues.
- Opioids. Due to the risks of addiction, most doctors don’t prescribe opioids for back pain anymore. If they are prescribed, they’re generally only used in very short-term situations, such as after back surgery. Aside from the risk of addiction, opioids can also cause challenging side effects like nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness.
- Surgery. Sometimes, if your doctor identifies a specific problem like a slipped or herniated disc, they may recommend back surgery. While surgery helps some patients, it’s a serious endeavor with risks including blood clots, infection, nerve damage, and more. If you’re thinking about surgery, we recommend getting another opinion to learn if there are any less invasive alternatives you can try first.
What if none of these solutions work for you? What can you do about your chronic lower back pain?
It can be frustrating to schedule multiple doctor’s appointments and leave with no real solutions, but there are other options available.
What Lower Back Pain Treatment Options Are in Hiram?
At Optimum Health Rehab, we know back pain. Our team of chiropractors, medical experts, therapists, and other staff will start by determining the exact cause of your pain.
We don’t believe in prescribing something and hoping it helps – we want to know what’s wrong and address it directly.
Our diagnostic process is thorough. We’ll take a medical history, inquire about your pain, review your medical records and previous diagnoses, and run tests as needed.
These may include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and nerve conduction studies. After completing an evaluation, we’ll identify the cause or causes of your back pain and create a treatment plan to meet your needs.
Here are some of the treatments we may use alone or in combination with other therapies:
About 22 million people visit a chiropractor each year, and more than a third of them (35 percent) seek help for lower back pain. In many cases, we find that one or more of the vertebrae – small bones that make up the spine – are misaligned, causing back pain.
This can happen for a number of reasons – lifting a heavy object, trauma from a car accident or sports injury, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, repetitive stress from sitting in an uncomfortable chair or daily activities, poor posture, etc.
We’ll help you find solutions for these root causes, but first, we’ll perform an adjustment called spinal manipulation.
This procedure is used to press misaligned vertebrae back into alignment. We’ll ask you to lie on a chiropractic table, usually face down – this may seem similar to lying on a massage table.
Next, we use a sudden, controlled force to move the bones out of their normal range of motion and back into the ideal position. If this sounds unpleasant, there’s no need to worry – most patients feel little to nothing during an adjustment besides a small amount of pressure.
Spinal manipulation usually takes a few minutes or less (depending on how many adjustments you need). Some people feel pain relief almost immediately, while others have a stronger response after a few days.
By realigning the bones of the spine, we can help reduce back pain for many patients with chronic pain.
Recovering from a back injury is often a faster process with the help of a skilled physical rehab specialist. They will review your diagnosis and ask you to go through some basic movements, such as standing up, sitting down, bending over to touch your toes, etc.
This process is to diagnose any functional deficits you currently have so they can be addressed – it’s not a problem if you can’t do some of the steps.
Next, your Physical Rehab specialist will walk you through a series of exercises meant to strengthen critical muscles and ligaments in the back. When these tissues are stronger and more flexible, they provide support for the spine and reduce the risk of more misalignments.
Again, you don’t need to do all the exercises perfectly at first – with practice, you should improve. The important thing is to do your best as often as your therapist recommends you work on them.
Doing your “homework” is an essential part of physical therapy, as most of your progress is made working through the prescribed exercises at home.
If pain or stiffness prevents you from doing this work, please tell your therapist, and they will improvise a solution, like modifying the exercise. Sometimes, we can also give you pain relief injections to temporarily reduce your pain so you can work on physical rehabilitation.
Many back problems stem from occupational hazards like sitting at a desk all day, carrying young children, lifting heavy objects, etc. A physical rehab specialist can provide you with tools to do these activities in a back-friendly way so you can heal faster and avoid future issues.
For example, they might recommend a new chair with better back support or using a back support device in a chair you already have.
Electrical Stimulation or E-Stim
In some cases, back pain is related to nerve damage or compression. When these cases prove challenging to treat, we may use an electrical stimulation device or E-Stim. This device has electrodes that should be placed on your back.
When you turn it on, the machine runs a low-voltage current through the electrodes – some people are worried this will hurt, but it’s a painless process.
The current does interrupt pain signals between the local nerves and your brain, which reduces pain perception without any medications. Side effects are usually mild and may include a “pins and needles” sensation or skin irritation.
If you have a nerve or muscle injury that doesn’t respond to other treatments, we may consider a platelet-rich plasma injection. This is a simple procedure in which we use our body’s own plasma to heal persistent injuries.
Plasma is a liquid we separate from a sample of your blood. It contains platelets, proteins, and other healing compounds, and we further reduce the plasma into two samples: platelet-rich plasma and platelet-poor plasma.
The platelet-rich plasma is injected into the injured area using an ultrasound for guidance. The concentrated healing factors in the plasma are now right where they’re needed to heal your injury.
After your injection, you can go home, but we recommend resting for a few days, then slowly reintroducing your usual activities.
You may see improvements in your pain anywhere from a few weeks to 1-2 months later, and some people gain additional benefits from a second or third injection.
Who Can Advise You on the Right Lower Back Pain Remedy for You?
An experienced chiropractor can diagnose the cause or causes of your lower back pain and explain the treatment options. Please contact Optimum Health Rehab at (770)439-6997 to set up a consultation.
Our staff members are here to help if you have questions about insurance coverage, scheduling, or other concerns, so please call today.