Sometimes back pain is short-lived. Maybe you overdid it at the gym, or maybe you pulled a muscle swinging your golf club. In many cases, a little rest, hot/cold therapy, and an inflammatory pain medication might be enough to ease your pain.
Sometimes though, back pain is lasting. Back pain is the number one reason for missed workdays, and there’s little surprise why: lasting back pain can make it difficult to perform daily tasks like bending over, tying your shoes, or even getting in the car to drive to work.
Chronic back pain can also impact your ability to sleep at night and to enjoy your favorite pastimes. It can also take a toll on your mental well-being.
Thankfully, our providers at the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center are skilled in treating back pain. Whether you’re struggling with sciatica, herniated discs, or other spinal conditions, we can help you get the relief you need.
In the meantime, here's a brief overview of the six most common treatments for lasting back pain:
1. Epidural steroid injections
Epidural steroid injections consist of a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid. Together, these two compounds provide pain relief while reducing inflammation. The injection is administered into the epidural space in your spine — hence the name.
Note: many women receive “epidurals” during labor. An epidural steroid injection isn’t the same thing as an epidural anesthetic used during labor. The only similarity is where the injection is placed. The types of medication used are completely different.
2. Radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation targets lasting back pain by stopping damaged nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. During the procedure, radiofrequency energy is targeted at the affected nerve. The heat generated from the radiofrequency waves stops the nerves from sending additional pain signals to the brain.
Radiofrequency ablation may be suggested if you have arthritis, sacroiliitis, or other nerve pain.
3. Spinal cord stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation is a drug-free option for treating lasting back pain. The idea behind spinal cord stimulation is similar to radiofrequency ablation — both procedures target pain by interrupting the nerve’s ability to send a pain message to the brain.
The difference is that spinal cord stimulation relies on electrical pulses, not radiofrequency energy. If you opt for spinal cord stimulation, you’ll have a small wire placed in your spine. The device emits electrical pulses which interrupt the pain signals.
4. Interventional orthopedics
Interventional orthopedics provides pain relief through regenerative medicine practices. Interventional orthopedics includes:
- Stem cell therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
Interventional orthopedics may be recommended if your back pain is related to an injury as these procedures accelerate and support the body’s natural healing processes.
If your back pain is due to vertebral fractures, you might consider kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure in which:
- A special balloon lifts your vertebrae to the proper height
- A special cement is added to support your bone and help maintain the right shape and height between the vertebrae.
Following kyphoplasty, you might benefit from physical therapy to help further improve the condition of your back.
6. Intrathecal pain pump
An intrathecal pain pump is an implantable device that delivers pain relief medication directly into the intrathecal space in your spine. Pain pumps can address back pain associated with many conditions including cancer pain, failed back surgery syndrome, peripheral nerve injury, and more.
Which treatment is right for you?
The right treatment depends on what's causing your pain. For example, kyphoplasty only makes sense if your back pain is caused by a vertebral fracture. When you come to the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center, we’ll begin the process by first determining what is causing your back pain. Once we have the proper diagnosis, we can build a treatment plan around you and your specific health needs.
To learn more about your treatment options for lasting back pain, visit us online to request an appointment at one of our three convenient locations.