If you’ve suffered an injury and your back took the brunt of the force, it may be a while before you feel like your old self again. Getting it checked out immediately by a medical professional should be a priority.  Once you get your diagnosis, now comes the process of fixing the problem and alleviating the pain. In some cases, if the radiology results don’t show a true break or potential problem, you can be left with a lot of questions and no answers.

Here are some things you can do to get your back pain under control while you’re in the healing process.

Hot and Cold Treatments

Back pain that is throbbing due to muscle tension or a pull, can throb constantly or intermittently throughout the day. Numbing out the pain is the best way to get a good grip on it. This starts with icing the affected area. Applying ice with a gel ice pack to that location is a natural way to control the pain. Taking pressure off of your back while you do this can speed along the process of pain relief. In some cases, nerves in the back or affected area are overworked and flaring up. You may also benefit from heat applied to this area. If the area is stiff and your muscles are extremely tight, you may benefit from a heat pack or lying on a heating pad until you can get your muscles relaxed. Increased tension in the back can exacerbate the pain and make it hard to get under control. If you have an underlying spinal condition, like spinal stenosis and you’re waiting on getting spinal stenosis surgery, heat treating your back can alleviate discomfort.  Alternating hot and cold treatments is also recommended, especially if you have back spasms or your pain levels fluctuate throughout the day.

Pain Injections

If you’ve tried resolving your pain issues at home or you’re waiting for surgery, and your pain is just out of control, consider injection therapy. Typically a cortisone injection is placed into the affected area. This is done with the assistance of ultrasound guidance. The doctor will find the precise location and inject the cortisone into the muscle to help numb the area internally. From there, you should start to see some pain relief within about three days. The amount of time the injection lasts varies. Some people don’t find a lot of relief, while others enjoy weeks of a pain-free lifestyle. This type of pain control is not permanent, only temporary. Another option is an injection of lidocaine in the affected area. This is a temporary pain reliever and typically only lasts about 24 hours or less. Ask your doctor if any of these treatments would help you and your situation. Most of these injections can be done by your doctor or he may refer you to a pain specialist.

Routine Physical Therapy

Having an evaluation by a physical therapist should be a priority after a back injury. Initially, your general practitioner or orthopedic doctor will recommend the physical therapy by sending a referral in detail about your condition and your medical history. Physical therapy targets not only the injured area but also works at reinforcing the underlying muscle and tissue. The result is a stronger back, making it easier for you to deal with any underlying pain issues and to have your body be as strong as possible during the healing process. Physical therapy demands may change as your body heals and after your surgery if you’re having one. Your health care team will make the recommended changes needed to accommodate your progress.

Surgery Intervention

If you’ve exhausted all pain control options and physical therapy is only helping a bit, you may have to see a neurosurgeon or back specialist for a complete evaluation. If you have a slipped or herniated disk, or spinal stenosis, surgery is likely the only way to relieve the pain and repair your back. Because these areas can also deteriorate over time, you’ll likely need a lumbar laminectomy to alleviate impinged nerves and decompress the area. Every person and their diagnosis is different, so be sure to exhaust all possibilities and discuss in detail with your doctor before making a decision.

Back pain is not something to take lightly. Whether your pain is acute or you’ve been dealing with it for a very long time, getting to the root of the pain issue starts with your doctor. From there, you can implement at home remedies and utilize other resources to take control of your pain and discomfort.

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