How Your Doctor May Treat Low Back Pain

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Back pain is among the most common of all healthcare complaints, with low back pain the leading cause of disability worldwide. The good news is that for many people, back pain is both temporary and self-treatable.

But when rest, heat and ice packs and medication don’t work, there are a number of different treatments for back pain your doctor may try.

Physical Therapy

For low back pain that’s either recurring or long-lasting, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy as the first method of treatment. The goal of physical therapy is to decrease pain, improve motion and strength, restore function and educate you on how to take care of your back to prevent against future injury.

A physical therapy program can include a number of different treatment modalities, including manual therapy, ultrasound, stimulation and exercise instruction so you can continue your program at home. The type and duration of physical therapy you receive will depend on your specific needs.

Following a physical therapy program may help people with debilitating low back pain to gradually return to their regular activities.

Epidural Steroid Injection

In addition to physical therapy, your doctor may also recommend an epidural steroid injection for low back pain. The steroid is injected close to or at the site of low back pain and can often provide significant pain relief. For some people, one injection is sufficient, while others benefit from a series of three. The analgesic effects of a steroid injection can last for up to a year.

Surgery for Low Back Pain

Back surgery is often seen as a last resort, when more conservative methods aren’t effective in relieving pain. Your doctor may suggest a laminectomy, to enlarge the spinal canal and alleviate nerve pressure, or a discectomy to remove part or all of a herniated disc.