Treating Back Pain: 6 Alternatives to Surgery
With back pain being one of the most common health issues among adults throughout the world, it’s no surprise that a profusion of surgical treatments has begun to pop up in the healthcare market. Popular options include spinal fusion, laminectomy, and discectomy surgeries, which correct the problems in the spine that are to blame for lingering pain, inflammation, and stiffness. But surgery isn’t the ideal choice for everyone.
Why? First and foremost: It’s not cheap. Reports show that spinal surgeries can cost over $80,000 in the United States. On top of that, back surgery demands a lengthy, highly involved recovery period, with most patients requiring between three months and a year to make a full recovery.
Because of the high cost, strenuous recovery, and risk factors associated with serious surgery, these back procedures are often not recommended to people who have certain health conditions or who are elderly. So, what can you do? One option is to learn how to treat back pain the non-surgical way.
- Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) – LLLT is a pain-free, non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical option that addresses back pain and discomfort. So, how does laser treatment help back pain, you ask? Via a wearable device—such as the Curavi Laser Therapy Belt—a series of low-level lasers are able to modulate the inflammatory process, penetrating tissues for fast relief. These devices temporarily relieve lower back pain associated with mild to moderate aches, muscle spasms, and inflammation in short, painless sessions.
- Massage Therapy – Massage therapy is a non-invasive, relaxing back pain treatment that can help you feel fast relief from pain and stiffness. Getting routine back massages by a professional or using self-massage devices can help treat low back and neck pain by easing away the pain, stiffness, and anxiety and by reducing the body’s production of certain stress hormones, including cortisol.
- Exercise and Physical Therapy – Whether you want to figure out how to treat lower back pain or how to work out the tight “traps” in your upper back, seeing a physical therapist is a smart, non-surgical option that will serve you for years to come. Physical therapists provide tailored treatments with specific exercises and stretches that help strengthen the back, legs, and core in order to lessen the burden on the back and effectively modulate lingering pain.
- Chiropractic Treatment – Seeing a chiropractor on occasion is a good way to get some temporary relief from the pain, though the experts say that chiropractic treatment only aids chronic back pain in the short term. Chiropractors use spinal manipulation techniques—pushing, pulling, pressure, etc.,—to realign or reposition the back, hips, neck, or shoulders to reduce stress and tension. The result is a feeling of relief that may last six weeks or less. Not all back pain sufferers are candidates for chiropractic care, though. People who have spinal fusions, spine implants (including artificial disks), spinal stenosis, and several other spinal conditions may not be ideal candidates for alignment.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture is often touted as an effective alternative treatment for lower back pain, and many people do report success with this option. The idea behind acupuncture for back pain is that, by inserting thin needles into strategic points in the back, energy imbalances are corrected and pain relief follows. Western medicine experts say that acupuncture may work to ease pain by affecting neurotransmitters, hormone levels, or the immune system.
- Diet and Weight Loss – One popular alternative therapy for all kinds of pain throughout the body is to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. This diet involves consuming foods that aid the body in warding off inflammation, such as certain fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and seeds. Adopting a lower-calorie diet may also assist in back pain relief because weight loss means less stress on the bones, muscles, joints, and tendons. Extra weight can also push the spine out of alignment, which can lead to a host of back problems.
Surgery May Not Be the Best Option
Surgery is a good solution for many lifelong sufferers of chronic back pain who are not affected by inhibitors such as recovery time or cost. However, for the millions of people who cannot reasonably have back surgery or who are waiting for a procedure, these back surgery alternatives can help ease the pain significantly.