When Pain Persists

back-painBack pain is a common problem with at least one episode of back pain occurring in an estimated 80% of the adult population in the United States. It is the leading cause of disability from work related injury and costs over $50 billion dollars a year. While a minor muscular ache may resolve within a few days without intervention, often treatment is required for back pain to avoid surgery and prevent disability.


The simplest treatment is application of therapeutic heat or cold. Cold packs are recommended for new injuries for at least the first 24 to 36 hours to provide relief from muscle spasm and reduce swelling.

Bed rest needs to be monitored by a physician. Prolonged bed rest may promote disability needlessly following a recent injury.

Medications can control pain without drowsiness or physical addiction. Newer once a day medications have been developed which can be safely used by most individuals even for extended periods of time.

Physical measures available for treatment include back supports, physical therapy and alternatives to medication for pain control including transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TNS).

Risk factors have been identified which can be modified to decrease problems with back pain including weight reduction and general measures to promote improved physical health.

Surgery is generally a last resort for musculoskeletal back pain. A majority of those with back pain due to disc disease can be successfully managed without surgical intervention.

Modern pain management can control pain, restore physical fitness, prevent recurrent episodes of back pain, and limit disability. There are sophisticated pain management programs throughout the country affiliated with local medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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