Conservative Spine Therapy
All neck and back pain conditions do not require surgery. Patients have non-surgical options referred to as “conservative treatment” for reducing back and neck pain, leg or arm numbness and/or weakness. Some conservative treatments are physical therapy, medication, and injections. When it comes to neck and back pain, surgical options are a last resort, after exhausting all conservative and minimally-invasive spine treatments. Even then, surgery is considered only if the patient’s pain persists and it interferes with daily activities.
One of the most least invasive non-surgical options for back and neck pain is physical therapy. A patient works with a physical therapist, who conducts an evaluation of the patient’s limitations, conditions, etc. The physical therapist measures the patient’s movements to set a baseline. Patients with back pain typically do a lot of core strengthening exercises to better support their spine and ease the strain on it.
A physical therapist may prescribe heat or ice therapy, a TENS unit (small gadget that does electrical stimulation), ultrasound, or stretches. The physical therapy program is tailored to the patient’s needs and ability.
The PT shows the patient how to do the exercises and recommends the number of times to do them. The patient goes home and completes the exercises based on the PT’s recommendations. In the next session, the PT may add more exercises or more challenging exercises.
Other Conservative Spinal Therapies
Another option is pain management. A patient may work with a pain management specialist who reviews the patient’s medications. The specialist develops recommendations based on the issue, the pain, medical history, and current medications.
Some medications don’t work well together, so it’s important to let your doctor know everything you take including over the counter medications, such as vitamins, antihistamines, and pain relievers. Other conservative spinal therapies include weight management, stress management, injections, or even a walking and light exercise program.