Treating Chronic Lower Back Pain
Chronic lower back pain is typically described as lower back pain that has lasted for three months or longer. It is notoriously difficult to diagnose, as sometimes the problems can be so subtle that they do not show up on a CT scan or an MRI. In other cases, the problems are obvious but difficult to treat. If the pain is caused by degenerative conditions, some people may need to learn to cope with the pain in addition to trying to relieve it. Here we’ll take a look at some of the most popular ways people suffering from chronic lower back pain are finding success with treating and living with it.
By the time lower back pain becomes chronic, most patients have already tried different conservative treatments, such as a round of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or paracetemol, either over the counter or by prescription in stronger doses. Many doctors are reluctant to prescribe these medications for long term use because they may cause side effects in the gastro-intestinal tract, such as stomach ulcers. Some patients have found success taking medication to protect the gastro-intestinal tract but there are those that prefer to cut down the number of medications they take and seek out alternative therapies.
Alternative therapies are rising in popularity in the UK which would indicate that patients are finding them to be helpful, although the medical community has found conflicting results in researching them to determine how helpful they are. Acupuncture, deep tissue massage, shiatsu and other therapies that find their origins in Eastern cultures are becoming very popular, while alternative therapies that have been available in Britain for longer periods such as chiropractic care are still going strong. While these methods may have varying degrees of success, many patients are encouraged by their doctors to use alternative therapies to complement their treatment and to try different types to find one that works for them.
TENS and TSNS Machines
Also rising in popularity are TENS and TSNS machines, which now are available in such small sizes that patients can use them in the comfort of their own homes. TENS machines use electrical impulses to stimulate the nerve endings and stop pain signals from being sent to the brain. TSNS machines are the latest in this technology and take the principle of the TENS machines one step further by sending the electrical impulses directly to the spinal cord in much higher frequencies. Both machines are easy to use with pads that are placed on the skin of the back and provide a gentle, tingling sensation during the treatment.
Finally, the latest trend in chronic lower back care is treating the psychological aspects of suffering from chronic pain as well as the pain itself through functional restoration programmes. These outpatient-based programmes combine physical therapy in the form of stretching and exercise with teaching patients how to cope with their pain by helping them understand the pain and how they can better manage it.