Treatment of Low Back Pain
In this article, we shall briefly take a look at the different treatment options offered to patients suffering from low back pain.
Conservative Medical Treatment
Conservative treatment options include over-the-counter painkillers and certain home remedies that can help manage pain in the short-term.
Over-the-counter painkillers include drugs such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These must be taken on advice of the physician. Side-effects are rare but must be kept in mind when taking these medications.
Certain home remedies that can help manage low back pain include using hot and cold compresses on the painful area. This can help alter the blood flow to the neighboring muscles around the spine and relieve symptoms. Changing one's mattress and also making sure that they adopt the right posture when standing up and sitting down can all contribute towards improvement in symptoms.
Exercise is strongly recommended in improving back pain. Physical therapists may get involved to manage some cases and patients may notice a relief of symptoms in a matter of weeks.
There are a variety of different surgical treatments that may be offered to patients to help relieve their symptoms. Some of these help patients and short-term while many of them can help them in long-term pain management.
Facet Joint Injections
This involves the injection of a steroid with or without an anaesthetic agent into the facet joints of the vertebral bodies. Inflammation that is present within the facet joint is relieved with the steroid (long-term) and the anaesthetic agent provides immediate pain relief.
Nerve Root Injections
Nerve root injections involve the injection of an anaesthetic agent of a steroid directly into the small nerve roots that emerge from the spinal-cord. Many times, these nerve roots may be inflamed or injured and these injections can help. The procedure is performed under fluoroscopy guidance and has typically excellent results.
Intervertebral Disc Surgery
Intervertebral disc surgery involves the removal or shaving of the part of intervertebral disc that is protruding out of its base and compressing upon nerve fibers.
Sometimes, the intervertebral disc is removed and is replaced partly or wholly by an artificial disc. This is called disc replacement surgery. However, many a times, the entire disc is removed and is replaced by a bone graft with a metallic prosthesis. This type of surgery is called spinal fusion and is a commonly performed procedure. The procedure is conducted through an anterior (front) or posterior (back) approach.
The advantage of surgery is that it can provide long-term relief of symptoms. In a more general sense, surgery can be performed either through an open approach with a large incision and longer in-hospital stay or through a laparoscopic approach using specialized equipment through small incision and short in-hospital stay. The choice of surgery depends upon the type of lower back problem and the preference of the surgeon and the patient.