As a widespread health problem, back pain affects about 80% of adults in the country. It’s caused mainly by spinal deformity, injury, or muscle strain. A rheumatic or systemic illness may also be the cause of the condition.

Back pain is considered chronic if it persists for more than three months. It may develop on the lower spine or neck, depending on the cause. The pain can also spread or be localized across a wide area of the body.

While doctors may at times recommend surgery as a remedy for chronic back pain, it might not be necessary. Before considering surgery, you can turn to the following nonsurgical treatments to relieve or improve back pain.

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the important pillars of nonsurgical treatments for chronic back pain. You can try it under the guidance of a spine physical therapist. The treatment is customized to fit your specific condition and symptoms.

As part of the treatment, your physical therapist will ask you to train your posture. They will also help you test your pain tolerance limits. Other exercises to help you recover will include core strengthening, aerobic and stretching, and flexibility exercises.

Physical therapy may also include spinal manipulation, which targets the spine. During this procedure, a chiropractor will use their hands to stimulate, massage, or adjust your spine. However, you shouldn’t consider this procedure if you have spinal cord problems, arthritis or osteoporosis.

2. Pharmacologic Treatments

Medically prescribed pharmacological treatments can help you with chronic back pain management. They can work when combined with other nonsurgical treatments.

Your physician may suggest acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol) as medication for back pain. Though this drug stops the pain process, it isn’t effective for inflammation.

Without a prescription, you may also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin. Though they can help treat fever and swelling related to the condition, their side effects include diarrhea, nausea, and heartburn.

Physician-prescribed muscle relaxants may help relieve low back pain as well. Other medications for the condition include antidepressants if the pain shoots down the leg.

3. Mindfulness and Meditation

Various mindfulness and meditation practices can help you manage the psychological effects of chronic pain. They help you deal with the depression, irritability, and frustration you may experience.

Consult with a rehabilitation psychologist about these practices. The specialist may advise you to try relaxation techniques such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation. These exercises will help draw your mind away from pain.

The specialist can also recommend specific stress management strategies for back pain caused by stress. Stress is known to tense the back muscles. It also alters the body’s perception of pain.

Stress management strategies can help relieve the pain if you experience high-stress levels. The strategies may include exercise, meditation, and social support.

4. Lifestyle Modifications

Learn to accept your limitations when you have chronic back pain to improve your chances of recovering. You also need to give your body time to heal before taking on any physically draining tasks.

As part of the lifestyle changes, start noting activities that worsen the pain and avoid them. You should also stand or sit in the correct posture to avoid straining your back.

Though it may be challenging to do them, exercises can help your body release endorphins. These chemicals have a mild effect that’s similar to pain medications.

You also need to watch your weight and maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts a lot of pressure on the back muscles and spine. Speak to your physician about healthy weight loss options to help treat the condition.

With the wrong type of footwear, your back, hips, and legs may misalign. The misalignment may cause back pain and even affect your posture. You should therefore avoid wearing high heels for a long time and wear comfortable shoes.

5. Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Diets comprising processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats are detrimental to back pain. These highly inflammatory foods can also lead to unhealthy weight gains, putting pressure on the spine.

A good anti-inflammatory diet should comprise whole grains, fish, and nuts. It also needs to include fresh fruits and vegetables.

Opt for a plant-based diet that comprises vegetables such as chia and flax seeds to fight inflammation. You can also combine them with omega-3-rich fish like tuna, trout, sardines, mackerel, and salmon. Other plant-based foods to help reduce back pain include sweet potatoes, grapes, beets, and carrots.

Though red meat is an excellent source of protein, it isn’t recommended for back pain. This is because it contains a substance that promotes inflammation.

Your protein options should include low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean white meats. Eat more protein to strengthen your bones. Protein also helps heal and repair connective tissue and bone damage.

6. Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments such as laser therapy, massage, and acupuncture can help improve back pain symptoms. Before considering any of them, speak to your spine specialist.

You may opt for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation as an alternative treatment. During this procedure, you’ll place sticky electrode patches on your back. The battery-powered device will send electrical impulses straight to the electrodes, interrupting pain signals.

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicinal practice, is a good back pain treatment for your condition. It involves thin needles that are inserted into specific points of your skin. The thin needles help relieve pain and restore function in your back.

You may book a deep tissue and Swedish massage to relieve back pain. Shiatsu massage is also effective since it applies pressure to the back muscles. What’s more, there are several minimally invasive procedures you can consider from licensed practitioners.

Looking for Chronic Back Pain Treatment? Book an Appointment!

The treatments discussed in this guide can help you cope with chronic back pain. They help relieve lower back pain and inflammation. While some may work for you and others might not discuss your options with an NJ spine doctor.

Count on Advanced Spine Center for surgical and nonsurgical treatment for spinal disorders, back pain, and neck discomfort. Our back specialists customize care and use state-of-the-art treatments to help patients recover. Book a personalized consultation with us today.