Chronic pain is a common ailment around the world, with recent research indicating that approximately 1.5 billion people across the globe have reported suffering from this condition. Back and neck pain are two of the most frequently-cited sources of chronic pain. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 26 million people between the ages of 20 to 64 experience frequent back pain. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. So the question is, if you experience back or neck pain, what are your treatment options?
- The starting point for treating pain is often some form of exercise tailored to your specific needs by a physical therapist. A program targeted to strengthen and stretch your muscles can really help offset the side effects of lower back pain, in particular. If you are physically capable, low-impact aerobic exercise can also make a big difference.
- Medication is also an important part of early treatment plans. There are a wide range of options available, depending on the severity of your pain levels. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDs are a good first step, but if the pain worsens or doesn’t respond to these types of drugs, a doctor can prescribe a muscle relaxant, oral steroid, narcotic, or even an anti-depressant instead.
- If exercise and medication fail to keep your pain in check, then it could be time to investigate surgical spinal treatments. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is becoming increasingly popular and effective as our technology continues to advance. MISS only requires small incisions, typically ranging from 1/4 of an inch to 1 inch in length, to complete the surgery. Patients are released from the hospital the same day and can recover in the comfort of their own home, and the recovery window is as short as 3 to 5 days.
Medical experts estimate that 80% of the population experiences back pain at some point in their lives, and they also estimate that 10 to 15% of the population experiences neck pain at any given time. The side effects of lower back pain, upper back pain, and neck pain can be devastating for anyone, but thankfully, the modern healthcare system provides a wide range of treatment options. If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to your doctor about which level of intervention would be most beneficial to you.