Treating Chronic Back Pain Safely

What to Know About Back Pain Treatment

It often goes untreated, and it’s one of the most common causes of disability. Chronic pain, and chronic back pain in particular, can affect our work, relationships, and ability to function in everyday life. But it’s not something you have to live with.

Barriers to Seeking Relief

Many people with chronic back pain don’t seek pain relief or even tell their doctor about the discomfort. For some, it’s a matter of awareness – they don’t know their treatment options. Others dismiss their pain or feel they have little or no control over it. Still others cope with pain by reaching for alcohol and/or drugs for temporary relief.

If any of these sound like you, don’t wait any longer to get help. The key to managing lower back pain is to treat it correctly and as quickly as possible. Pain is a warning signal that something could be wrong. The longer it persists, the more potential it has to become a recurring problem.

Communicating with Your Physician

Since there is no easy way to measure pain, clear communication with your doctor will be essential for proper diagnosis and effective treatment. Find a way to describe the pain you feel and how it affects your life. You have every right to be heard, and your input will help your physician adjust your pain management plan accordingly.

What to Know About Prescription Painkillers

Prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet are commonly prescribed to patients with low back pain. However, these come with serious risks – including the development of tolerance and the risk of drug dependence –  and can do more harm than good in the long run. If your doctor prescribes narcotics for your pain, be sure to carefully follow his or her directions and check in regularly.

An Interdisciplinary Approach

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to pain management. Safe and effective pain care involves a number of parties, beginning with you and continuing with various health care professionals and treatments. If your back pain lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks, grows progressively worse, or leg pain and numbness develops, you should see an appropriately trained spine specialist. A specialist can conduct a physical exam and run diagnostic tests to identify what’s causing your pain, and then work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

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