Almost everyone – nearly 80 percent of the American population – is affected by back pain at some point. Its impact on your overall wellbeing is huge – it can affect everything from simple self-care, to your job, to how you interact with your family and friends. When your back is compromised, so is your life.
Although back pain is common, it’s straightforward to address – at least in the early stages. Often simply changing your lifestyle is enough to see improvement. This may include:
- Losing weight
- Strengthening your core muscles
- Improving your diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods
- Quitting smoking
There are also conservative treatments available to help manage back pain. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may suggest:
- Physical therapy – This is typically the first line of treatment. Physical therapy can motivate patients to get more active, which can help alleviate back pain. Patients learn strengthening exercises to help stabilize the core and increase coordination of soft tissues that help support the spine.
- Alternative therapies – This includes integrative medicine such as acupuncture, biofeedback, Reiki or massage.
- Medication – Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, are often enough to help alleviate pain. Prescription-strength NSAIDs are also available if a stronger medication is needed.
- Injection-based treatments – Steroid injections at the site of inflammation can be used in an attempt to ease pain.
As a last resort, surgery may be an option to address extreme pain.