Many people looking for back and neck pain relief think that a lifetime of shots and pills or a complicated surgical procedures are their only treatment options. But this is absolutely not the case.
A good treatment plan isn’t about a quick fix. No reputable spine specialist will offer pain blocks—an injection of an anesthetic into an affected area—as a cure for back and neck pain. Unfortunately, many patients have been misled into believing that a pain block is a cure, only to be disappointed when the pain returns after the effects of the anesthetic have worn off. Additionally, many patients fall into the vicious cycle of numbing their pain with prescription medications. As patients consume more medication, they become more inactive and disabled, their muscles weaken, and the pain continues to mount—fueling the constant dependency on medicine. Shots and pills only address the pain symptom temporarily—they don’t resolve the underlying cause of pain and are not intended for long-term use.
A good treatment plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution either. Surgery, while understandably anxiety inducing, shouldn’t be viewed as an inevitable, “if all else fails” option. The reality is that 85% of patients suffering from back and neck pain do not need surgery to overcome their problem. For the minority of cases in which surgery is recommended, surgical techniques have advanced significantly to minimize patient discomfort.
Keep in mind that the ideal treatment plan targets a specific diagnosis, addresses the underlying cause, relieves pain for the long term, and restores your body to its normal function. Let’s explore the broad treatment options available to you.
If your pain is mild to moderate, and it’s your only symptom, then it’s fine to try to resolve it independently. There are many steps you can take at home to help dissipate the pain:
- If needed, rest in bed for 1 to 2 days maximum.
- Walk slowly around your home or in a pool.
- Perform simple exercises, such as lying facedown with your arms beside your body. After spending a few minutes in this position, roll over onto your back and insert a rolled towel under your lower back to keep it in the correct position while you rest. Avoid rounding your lower spine.
- Start an exercise program that combines general aerobic, stretching, and strengthening activities to improve your mobility and core stability. Stronger muscles help to ward off pain.
- Apply heat or cold packs to the area with pain.
If your back and neck pain persists, worsens, or recurs on and off, then you should see your primary care physician (PCP) or a trusted spine specialist to understand what is causing the pain and how it can be fixed.
Biologic or Tissue-Regeneration Procedures
Advanced new treatments harness your body’s natural healing capabilities to slow down aging-related changes in tissue and even facilitate tissue regeneration. Our cells produce substances that help to repair tissues. A biological treatment involves collecting these cells and applying them to affected areas.
Other Non-Surgical Solutions
- Aquatic therapy is a great way of relieving pain through gentle movement while minimizing pressure on the spine.
- Therapeutic ultrasound involves the application of a hand-held wand to the area with pain to enable sound waves to pass through the skin into the affected tissue. Vibrations from the sound waves generate heat in the body, which reduces pain and inflammation.
- Laser photobiomodulation techniques involves targeting laser beams to the affected area to repair tissue and reduce pain and inflammation.
- Trigger-point injections, acupuncture, or targeted pain blocks can be helpful if pain becomes debilitating. The injection of medication decreases swelling and inflammation of affected tissues and nerves, and relieves pain temporarily while the source of the pain is identified. By enabling physicians to understand where pain treatment is most effective, these techniques are valuable diagnostic tools.
If the culprit for your back and neck pain is mechanical—such as a pinched nerve or herniated disc—then restorative spine surgery may be the best treatment option for you. Restorative spine surgery is the least invasive procedure necessary to solve your problem, minimizes impact on surrounding healthy tissue, reduces pain and blood loss, and speeds up recovery time.
Your spine surgeon has many options available for how to carry out a procedure, ranging from using microscopes and endoscopes to using lasers, robots, and stereotactic navigation. The approach that your surgeon ultimately takes depends upon your diagnosis, in addition to what you and your surgeon agree is best for achieving your desired outcome. As the patient, you should have an active part of the decision-making process. Regardless of the technique your surgeon uses, the ultimate goal of any surgical procedure is to either relieve pressure on a nerve (decompression) or stabilize a segment of the spine that is moving excessively (fusion).
Do you suffer from chronic or bothersome back and neck pain? Are you interested in learning more about how you can eliminate pain and improve your quality of life?
At Advanced Spine Institute, we are happy to conduct an initial review of your case for free. Simply click here and we’ll schedule your consultation as soon as possible.