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Back Pain Treatment

Proper treatment is a critical component to treating or preventing back and neck problems.

Consult your healthcare provider
First, talk with your doctor and follow his or her treatment directions. Always talk with your doctor before starting any self-care treatment plan.

Medication
For most people, treatment includes gradual return to activity, and relief from pain and ease of swelling with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, or Advil. Talk to your doctor and ask about the risk of side effects with NSAIDS use. If these medicines upset your stomach, use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. Your doctor also may prescribe muscle relaxants during the first few days to ease muscle spasms.

Your physician may order steroid injections that can ease the pain and discomfort. These steroids are injected into the epidural space of the spine, which surrounds the nerves within the spinal canal. Steroid injections into the joint of the spine is an option to relieve pain in a small area. Instead of using injections, your doctor may also prescribe oral steroids.

The label should read, DANGER, do use not use narcotic pain medications unless you absolutely have to. Narcotic pain medications such Percocet, Vicoden, Oxycontin, and others are excellent at relieving pain, but prolonged use of these drugs can be very addictive and dangerous. Using any of these narcotic medications must be done under close supervision, and only for a very short period of time. Make absolutely sure that you've exhausted all other options before taking any narcotic pain medication. This type of medication offers quick pain relief but at a very high price. Remember that back pain relief and ability to function is often not a quick and easy fix, but a delicate and consistent approach utilizing a mixture of physical therapy, exercises, and other rehabilitation methods.

Bed rest
The first step in the treatment of low back pain is to rest. Bed rest is fine, so long as it only lasts one or two days at the most. Prolonged bed rest is not necessary for most back problems, and may do more harm than good. In fact, in bed for more than one day may actually increase the pain and stiffness. Bed rest should be limited during episodes of acute lower back pain. Resume activities by getting up and walking around your home periodically. Prolonged bed rest can actually lead to more persistent back pain. Early and reasonable return to normal activity (work, school, recreation) is recommended. Once the acute back pain eases, avoid lifting, twisting, and physical exertion.

Physical Therapy
Physical therapy (PT) utilizes therapeutic exercises, hands, and various types of machines or devices in the treatment, healing, and prevention of physical dysfunction, pain, injuries, or disabilities. The goals of physical therapy are to develop, maintain or restore maximum body movement and functional ability that allows the patient to return to a comfortable and productive life, even if the problem persists.

Active and Passive Therapies
Passive treatment is when something is done to you, while you're inactive. Passive treatment implies lack of participation on your part, and requires another person to apply the treatment. Passive treatment usually requires more money and resources. Some people actually become addicted to some passive therapy methods.

Active therapy means that you are involved in doing something physically. Active treatment requires that you acknowledge a responsibility and willingness to accept a role in the rehabilitation process.

In most cases, applying a balance amount of both active and passive therapies provides the best results.

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