Back Pain

Back Pain Treatments for Your Pain

It is estimated that up to 84 percent of adults have low back pain at some time in their lives [1,2]. For many individuals, episodes of back pain are self-limited. Patients who continue to have back pain beyond the acute period (four weeks) have subacute back pain (lasting between 4 and 12 weeks) and may go on to develop chronic back pain (persists for ≥12 weeks). Improvement generally occurs over three months, after which pain, level of disability, and rates of return to work remain relatively constant. Approximately 5 percent of people with back pain disability account for 75 percent of the costs associated with low back pain [3].

Back pain treatment can relieve the chronic pain experienced by 15-20% of people in the U.S. Back pain affects males and females equally and can occur at any age, with the majority of initial episodes taking place between ages 20-40.Generally back pain can be attributed to mechanical causes, most of which are relatively benign, although a small number of cases are due to more serious illness.

Common causes of back pain include degeneration (e.g. osteoarthritis), muscle strain, mechanical problems (e.g. a herniated disc, facet arthritis), motor vehicle accidents, work related injuries, and vertebral fractures associated with osteoporosis.

Rare, more serious causes include cancer, infection, vascular problems, and damage to nervous tissues.

Back pain usually occurs in the lower back but can occur in the upper back as well. The pain may be aggravated with movement or may radiate (spread) into the lower extremities. Patients may also have limited range of motion and/or tenderness upon touch.

Certain red flags indicate a more serious condition that may require emergency evaluation or surgery, including weakness, numbness or tingling, fever, weight loss, or problems with bowel or bladder control.

Diagnosis leading to productive back pain treatment is done by a doctor through a comprehensive history and physical examination.

Additionally, a full work-up is often performed to identify compressed nerves from a herniated disc.

Supplemental imaging is usually reserved for symptoms that persist beyond several weeks despite conservative treatment or if a physician suspects a serious pathology.

Depending on your particular back pain, the doctor may order an X-ray if a bone infection or tumor is suspected or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan if disc herniation is suspected.The goals of back pain treatments are to relieve symptoms and improve functioning. Back pain treatments range from conservative management to surgery depending on the cause and severity of the pain.

Back pain typically resolves on its own within weeks with conservative treatment. More conservative back pain treatments include:

  • Pain-relieving medications are the initial treatment of choice for back pain. These can include over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol™), ibuprofen (Advil™), muscle relaxants, or prescription opioids.
  • Physical therapy and exercise helps strengthen the back to avoid future injury and speed the recovery process.
  • Lifestyle adjustments to avoid aggravating movements and reduce body weight.
  • Alternative therapies such as massage, yoga, and acupuncture may provide benefit to some patients

When conservative measures suggested by your doctor for back pain are ineffective, local anesthetics, steroids, can often be injected at the site of pain to block the conduction of pain signals to the brain. The injections done to help with pain management may be done in office during your visit such as trigger point injections, or may need X ray guided injections like Epidural steroid injections, Facet joint injections (including Radio Frequency Neurotomy) and Sacro-iliac (SI) joint injections.

Back pain due to disc herniation may require surgical intervention via spinal fusion or discectomy, the removal of herniated tissue.

If you’re experiencing back pain contact us today to schedule a consultation.


1.Deyo RA, Tsui-Wu YJ. Descriptive epidemiology of low-back pain and its related medical care in the United States. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1987; 12:264.

2.Cassidy JD, Carroll LJ, Côté P. The Saskatchewan health and back pain survey. The prevalence of low back pain and related disability in Saskatchewan adults. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1998; 23:1860.

3.Frymoyer JW, Cats-Baril WL. An overview of the incidences and costs of low back pain. Orthop Clin North Am 1991; 22:263.

The Minnesota Institute for Pain Management strives to improve the quality of life for it's patients by restoring normal function by relieving pain. Contact Us today to schedule a consultation with our pain experts.