The length of treatment required and type of low back pain management needed depends on the cause of the low back pain. Low back pain treatment can include:
Non- surgical options include:
Osteopathy: visiting a physical therapist such as an osteopath can help with relieving your discomfort and pain that is a result of the low back pain. The treatment would include a range of different hands on techniques that aim to:
- Improve blood flow and circulation to the affected area which helps improve the body’s natural healing response.
- Release and stretch tight muscles to allow for improved movement and function.
- Release endorphins. These are hormones that circulate the body and act as natural pain relief.
- Strengthen the deep spinal stabilising muscles through a comprehensive exercise programme.
Your osteopath will also advise you about pain management techniques, including the use of hot and cold therapy along with advice about returning to activity.
Exercises for low back pain may also be prescribed to you by your osteopath. These will be exercises specific to improving the mobility and strength in your lower back and core muscles as well as improving your posture. The exercise programme will be controlled and progressive, tailored specifically to the underlying cause of your low back pain. Adherence to the exercises plays a key part in preventing the return of low back pain.
Medication for low back pain: if you decide to visit your GP, depending on the severity of your pain they may prescribe you with some oral medications to help you with low back pain relief:
- Over the counter painkillers and anti inflammatory medications are prescribed as they can help with the pain and inflammation experienced due to low back pain.
- Prescription muscle relaxant medication such as diazepam may be prescribed to help with muscle spasms.
- If the pain is really severe then your GP may prescribe antidepressants or anticonvulsants as these can also help with nerve pain.
Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI): in some cases your GP may recommend a steroid injection to help you with your pain. ESI is a technique in which a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic is injected into a space around your spinal cord called the epidural space. The aim of ESI is to give you temporary relief from your low back pain, it does this by reducing the inflammatory response within the tissues of the low back.
Surgery may be considered for individuals who have not responded to other, no invasive forms of treatment. There are many different options for surgery which should be discussed in detail with your spinal surgeon. The type of surgery selected would depend on a few different factors:
- Cause of low back pain
- Age of the patient
- Mental health of the patient
- Ability to function in everyday life
Below are a few different types of spinal surgery:
Discectomy: this is a surgery in which part or all of a damaged intervertebral disc that is compressing a nerve is removed.
Laminectomy: this is a surgery in which the back part of one or more vertebrae in the lumbar spine (low back), known as the lamina is removed. This creates more space for the spinal
nerves and reduces the likelihood of the nerve being compressed.
Spinal Fusion: this is a surgery in which the affected bone in the spine is joined together to the bone below to stabilise and strengthen the spine.
Balloon Kyphoplasty: this is a surgery that is commonly used for vertebral compression fracture. It is a minimally invasive technique where a small incision is made and tiny balloons are inflated within the fractured vertebrae. The inflated balloon restores vertebral height, and the cavity is then filled with bone cement to maintain the vertebral height.