Chronic Back Pain

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Chronic back pain is defined as back pain that last for longer than three months. It is a common condition, affecting 80% of adults at some point in their lives. Chronic back pain is most commonly associated with complications from failed back surgery, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis (a nerve affecting narrowing of the spinal cord).

When you see a physician for back pain, you can expect the health care provider to ask about a psychosocial history (where you work and what activities you engage in) as well as a description of the pain, including where it located, how it started and what exacerbates or relieves it. The physician will then perform a thorough physical exam that looks for tender areas, range of motion and obvious deformities. The health care provider may order specific imagine tests such as an MRI or CT scan if the pain continues without relief.

Chronic back pain can be treated in a variety of ways, including medication, physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, bed rest, stretching exercises, and ice and/or heat therapy.

When chronic pain is not relieved by conventional means, other treatments may be applied, such as:

  • Acupuncture, the insertion of needles the width of a human hair along specific points throughout the body.
  • • Biofeedback uses a special electronic machine that trains the patient to become aware of and gain control over bodily functions like muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature.
  • • Interventional therapy uses injections of local anesthetics, steroids, or narcotics into affected soft tissues, joints, or nerve roots to block nerve conduction between specific areas of the body and the brain.
  • • Traction, which is not used for lower back pain, pulls the skeletal structure into better alignment using weights to apply constant or intermittent force.
  • • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses small electrodes on the skin to administer mild electric pulses along nerve fibers in an attempt to block pain signals to the brain.
  • • Ultrasound uses sound waves as a noninvasive muscle relaxant therapy to warm the body’s internal tissues.

Related Articles

Dealing with Chronic Pain

Types of Chronic Pain

What is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal Decompression Cost


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