The Benefits of Non-Surgical Treatments

Reading Time: 5 minutes Many people with back pain are afraid of undergoing surgery. Depending on the injury, back surgery can be a major medical operation or a minimally invasive surgery with quick recovery time. As with any surgery, physicians typically explore non-surgical options first before recommending surgery. There are many non-surgical treatments that are popular ways to manage back pain with much success for patients.

How physical therapists help

Once a diagnosis is determined, patients are often referred to a physical therapist to relieve chronic back pain. The therapist will create a regimen as prescribed by the spine specialist for optimal recovery time. Physical therapists understand the body’s physiology and mechanics and use this information to create care plans. A therapy plan involves exercises and movements that help relieve pain and improve the patient regain range of motion. Therapists can also help patients learn new ways to do things to prevent further back damage.

1. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

This technique uses electrodes to deliver electric currents to the back. The electricity travels through the body’s nerves and blocks pain receptors from sending signals to the brain. Therapists use a small machine called TENS to deliver the treatment. TENS benefits outweigh any risks. Some people with sensitive skin may experience minor burns or rashes from the device, but this is uncommon.

2. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy uses water to treat health ailments. Hydrotherapy uses hot water to expand blood vessels, expel waste from the body, and activate sweat glands. Cold water constricts blood vessels. Both hot and cold water therapies are used to reduce inflammation and drain lymphatic tissues. Here are some standard water therapies:

  • Warm water baths
  • Steam baths
  • Sauna
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Wraps
  • Pool exercises

For many patients, hydrotherapy has shown to be effective in relieving back pain. Although this type of therapy may not be suitable for patients with heart conditions.

3. Therapeutic massage

Therapeutic massages are believed to help drain the lymphatic tissues, similar to hydrotherapy. In fact, many providers combine hydrotherapy with massage to treat back pain. Massage therapy helps the muscles release tension and allows blood to flow freely through the veins. Poor blood circulation is a significant issue for back pain sufferers and this therapy helps tremendously.

Talk to a healthcare provider

A primary care provider will be able to recommend other medical professionals and treatments for patients with chronic back pain. Consulting with a spine specialist would be the best approach to determining the best course of action for chronic back pain.

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Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Spine Surgeon

Dwight Tyndall, MD, FAAOS

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