Back inflammation therapies

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Most cases of back pain resolve with tincture of time. However, when back pain is due to inflammation, that may not be the case. The trick is to know what therapies work well for back pain and inflammation. There are a wide variety of non-surgical treatments that are helpful.

The common non-surgical treatment options are physical therapy/exercise, medication, spinal injections, chiropractic, and alternative medicine.

Physical therapy modalities include:

Heat/Cold therapies which help to reduce inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain.

Therapeutic ultrasound transmits sound waves into tissues. This creates a deep heat that increases circulation while helping to relieve inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain.

Traction: Gentle force is applied to stretch the spine to alleviate back pain and spasm.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A small electrical device, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, delivers a small amount of electric current via lead wires and small electrodes. This current blocks pain signals to nerves.

Massage: Various types of massage increase circulation and relieve muscle tension, spasms, inflammation, aches, stiffness, and pain.

Aquatic Therapy: This consists of whirlpools, spas, and swimming pools. This modality helps soothe and relax muscles.

Examples of therapeutic exercises include:

• Stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
• Core strengthening exercises to improve the spine's ability to absorb shock.
• Postural modification to prevent re-injury.
• Low impact aerobic exercise for conditioning

There are a number of medications to choose from to treat back pain. Some medications are available over-the-counter (OTC) and other types are available by prescription only. These include:

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs) help to decrease inflammation. These also include the COX-2 group of NSAIDS. Side effects include gastrointestinal upset, ulcers, and an increased probability of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Acetaminophen is an analgesic used for pain. It can be used alone or in combination with NSAIDs.

Muscle relaxants are often prescribed for severe pain related to muscle spasm.

Opioid narcotics are not a first line of treatment, but may be used in refractory cases. They have no anti-inflammatory properties.

For people who have inflammatory forms of arthritis that affect their back such as ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, both disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) such as sulfasalazine and methotrexate as well as anti-TNF drugs such as Enbrel, Humira, Simponi, and Remicade may be required.

Many of these medications, even OTC drugs, can have serious side effects.

Spinal injections are often effective in relieving pain. Two common spinal injections are:

Facet joint injections help to reduce inflammation and pain originating from inflammation involving one or more facet joints.

Epidural steroid injections deliver pain relieving medications into the epidural space.

Spinal injections should be part of a treatment plan that includes other therapies such as physical therapy and therapeutic exercise.

Chiropractors believe one of the main causes of pain and disease is the misalignment of the vertebrae in the spinal column. To address this problem, chiropractors use some of the following techniques to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves and restore joint mobility:

• Applied pressure, massage, and manual manipulation of the vertebrae and joints (adjustments)
• Exercise programs and instruction
• Lifestyle and nutrition counseling

Alternative medicine also has been used for back issues. A few of the most common alternative medicine treatments used for back pain include:

Acupuncture: Thin, disposable needles are inserted at various points of the body to increase blood flow and Qi (the life force that passes through the body). Some patients report that acupuncture has provided relief from back pain and helps to promote healing.

Herbal medicine: Certain herbs have healing properties. Individual herbs may be combined to create a compound with a specific function (such as pain relief).

Biofeedback techniques: Mental and physical exercises are monitored by sensors applied to specific points on the body. Each sensor is connected to a machine designed to monitor physiological responses. Pain control can be achieved using biosensory feedback.

Get more information about back inflammation therapies as well as...

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• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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