Dealing with back pain

Medications and therapies include:

Physical therapy and exercise. A physical therapist can help to reduce pain with a variety of treatments including electrical stimulation and muscle release techniques. As you begin to heal, the therapist can also teach you specific exercises to increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture to prevent pain from recurring.
Prescription medications. In cases where over-the-counter pain relievers are not effective, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or a muscle relaxant may be prescribed.
Cortisone injections. If you have pain radiating down your leg from a pinched nerve, your doctor may prescribe cortisone injections around your spinal cord. A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots.
Electrical stimulation. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sends a weak electrical current through points on the skin to nerve pathways. The idea is to interrupt pain signals, preventing them from reaching your brain. Although considered safe (and painless), TENS doesn’t work for everyone.

Treatments for chronic back pain may include use of antidepressant medications or narcotics. Surgery is usually only used for pain caused by a herniated disk.

Alternative or complimentary treatments include acupuncture and chiropractic care. Botox (botulinum toxin) injections, known primarily as an anti-aging treatment for wrinkles, have also been used to treat back pain as well as other types of chronic pain .

Practicing proper body mechanics go a long way in keeping back pain at bay. The Mayo Clinic offers the following recommendations to keep your back healthy and strong:

Exercise. Low-impact aerobic activities that don’t strain or jolt your back can increase strength and endurance in back muscles. Walking and swimming can be good choices – talk with your doctor about kind of exercise is best for you.
Build muscle strength and flexibility. Abdominal and back muscle exercises (core-strengthening exercises) help condition muscles so that they work together to protect your back. Flexibility in your hips and upper legs aligns your pelvic bones to improve back health.
Quit smoking. Smokers have diminished oxygen levels in their spinal tissues, which can slow the healing process.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts strain on your back muscles.

Use proper body mechanics:
• When you stand, try to maintain a neutral pelvic position. When standing for long periods, relieve your lower back by alternately placing your feet on a low footstool.
• Choose a seat with good lower back support, arm rests and a swivel base. You can also place a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
• When doing any lifting, let your legs do the work. Move straight up and down, keeping your back straight, and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body and avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. If the object is awkward or heavy, recruit a lifting partner.
• When selecting a back-friendly mattress, recent studies indicate that a medium-firm (rather than firm) mattress might be best. Use pillows for support, as long as the pillow doesn’t force your neck up at a severe angle.
Source: The Mayo Clinic