How to Manage Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a condition that can be hard to control and manage for a lot of people. Despite a spectrum of therapy options, it can be overwhelming, constantly bumping up against the limitations and discomforts of chronic back pain on top of not knowing if it will ever improve. 

Managing chronic back pain is ultimately about finding what works for you. In all likelihood, two or more therapies may provide long-lasting relief and rehabilitation. Here is what you need to know about managing chronic back pain.

Know the Cause

Chronic back pain can result from age-related conditions like arthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated or bulging discs, myofascial pain syndrome, and more. If you know the cause of your chronic back pain or can rule out potential causes, you will have more insight into how to manage your health and what adjustments may need to be made to live more comfortably.

Avoid Medication Reliance

Medication is a last resort when pain is unbearable and relief is unavailable elsewhere. Ideally, use minimal medication and focus on other ways to manage pain. Medication only provides temporary relief and is habit-forming. It will never improve your pain in a long-lasting way, nor will it improve your quality of life beyond the period of time it provides relief.

Physical Therapy

Try physical therapy or home exercise as a starting point. Prescribed exercises tailored to chronic back pain can relieve symptoms and improve comfort levels. The key is maintaining a regular exercise routine that focuses on spinal strength and stability.

Physical therapy will strengthen your core, stretch and increase flexibility in your back, retrain your posture, and introduce you to aerobic exercises at a slow pace.

Wear Back Braces

A back brace is sometimes recommended for patients with chronic low back pain as it provides stability that your body may not be able to produce or maintain on its own. A back brace supports your muscles, ligaments, and jointsand increases back endurance, minimizing stress. Find a back brace that works for you as they come in various designs, from flexible to semi-rigid and rigid.

Eliminate Bad Habits

It’s not easy to do, but take a look at what contributes to your pain levels and eliminate the bad habits that aren’t doing you any favours. Eat nutritious foods that work for you. Engage in better sleep if you can, finding the best sleep routine. 

If you spend your day sitting, move around more. Do what you can and operate within your limits, but pay attention to the habits that make things difficult.

Try Different Diets

Food can significantly impact our bodies’ ability to create and feel pain. High-inflammatory foods, such as trans fats, refined sugars, and heavily processed foods, can contribute to chronic back pain. 

A balanced approach to eating may help you manage chronic back pain surprisingly well by eating differently and focusing more on fresh vegetables, fruits, protein, and a healthy portion of carbs.

Consider a Chiropractor

A chiropractor can help with back pain, but in some cases, they may not provide enough relief. The best advice with any therapy like this is to try it a few times and note how it impacts you. A chiropractor completes spinal adjustments and musculoskeletal manipulations, and multiple studies show they can relieve acute back pain.

Speak with a Massage Therapist

Massage therapy reduces muscle tension and induces relaxation in the body, which can provide excellent short-term relief for people suffering from chronic back pain.

This type of therapy can give a time-out period, sometimes lasting a few days, that allows a patient to relax from the constant physical nagging sometimes associated with this type of condition.

See a Pain Specialist

Consult your primary care physician. Ensure your chronic back pain is documented. Ask to see a pain management specialist who may be able to provide access to treatments covered by insurance that you won’t otherwise have access to.

Chronic pain clinics exist to provide personalized treatment plans focused on improving quality of life in the safest and longest way there is.

Engage in Mindfulness

While the physical part of chronic back pain needs to be addressed, so does the emotional aspect. Mindfulness and meditation address frustration, irritability, depression, and psychological elements of chronic pain. As you boost your cognitive abilities and calm the mind, this will calm the body and reduce pain.

Try to Avoid Surgery

Unless your doctor strongly recommends it, surgery is invasive and irreversible and should not be the first option for chronic back pain. While it corrects structural abnormalities, pain relief isn’t guaranteed.

A patient may even suffer worsening pain, especially if the source is partly unknown. A patient with back pain should never be rushed into a surgery decision without being educated on alternatives first.

Kelly Young is a writer born and raised in Toronto. Proud of her simple and cozy life, a perfect evening for Kelly would be to snuggle up in bed with her cat and a well-written historic memoir.