According to the Mayo Clinic, four out of five people will experience lower back pain in the United States. Back pain is also the most common reason people visit their doctor. Causes of back pain can be muscular, or more serious--like a ruptured disk, which causes nerve pain. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for back pain, including medications, physical therapy, surgery and acupuncture.
Medication Treatment Options
For mild back pain, a doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter pain medication as well as bed rest. However, if pain lasts longer, the doctor will likely prescribe medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, hydrocodone or codeine. For chronic back pain, the Mayo Clinic reports that some patients experience relief with antidepressants.
Physical Therapy Options
Physical therapy and back exercises can also be helpful for back pain. During the process, therapists will show you exercises that can be done at home to strengthen your back and muscles in the abdominal region. A therapist may also use heat on your back to relieve muscular pain.
For pain that radiates down your leg, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections. This is an anti-inflammatory medication that is injected near your spinal cord, and reduces inflammation around the nerves. This treatment typically provides relief for about six weeks.
Most back issues can be resolved without surgery, however, some require this more invasive treatment. Surgery is typically reserved for people who suffer from a herniated disk, which compresses the nerve. There are four options for surgery, including: fusion, disk replacement, removing part of the disk and removing part of the vertebra. Your surgeon will evaluate your back to determine which procedure will provide the most pain relief to you.
For mild to moderate back pain, alternative options can help. According to the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture treatments can be effective for chronic pain suffers. Other alternative options include chiropractic manipulation and massage.