Lower back pain is a common complaint among adults, with nearly 65 million people in the U.S. have recently experienced some form of back discomfort. While there are numerous potential causes for the discomfort, the most common are strains in the muscles and ligaments, bulging or ruptured discs, arthritis, and osteoporosis. The best treatment for your back pain will ultimately depend on its underlying cause, but here are a few options your healthcare team may recommend.
In some cases, back pain will improve over time with low-impact activity, gentle stretching, moves to strengthen the back muscles, and treatment such as hot and cold therapy. If these remedies don’t work, however, your doctor may prescribe other therapies.
A number of medications can help alleviate persistent back pain. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium may be advised first. Topical pain relievers such as ointments may also bring temporary relief. If these don’t work, muscle relaxants or narcotics may be advised. With that being said, some drugs have serious side effects and can be habit-forming.
Physical therapists can help you build strength in the lower back, stretch to relieve any areas of tension, and modify your posture to promote spinal health. They’ll also learn about your symptoms to better understand which lifestyle factors could be triggers, and help you find ways to avoid them.
If back pain persists, some practitioners may recommend cortisone injections to reduce inflammation in the back area. Typically, the relief from these treatments will only last a couple of months.
Surgery is usually reserved as a last-resort option and is generally recommended only for back issues that haven’t responded to the treatments above. They are most often used for structural issues such as herniated discs and narrowing of the spinal column. With that being said, back surgery presents its risks and doesn’t always yield optimal outcomes.
As an alternative to or means of delaying surgery, some patients may wish to explore stem cell therapy. Stem cell treatment is a form of regenerative medicine therapy in which stem cells are injected at the site of an injury to kickstart healing through their ability to self-renew and differentiate into specific cell types, thereby replacing and healing damaged tissue. While it may not be right for every type of back pain, patients who have tried other therapies and want to avoid surgery may be good candidates for the treatment.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for back pain, also known as degenerative disc disease. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.