Treatment Options for Back and Neck Pain
Back and neck pain are common symptoms of injury, damage, deformity or unhealthy spinal conditions. Pain may range from a mild ache to a sharp shooting pain that can spread down your arms and legs. There are many conservative and surgical treatment options that can relieve pain by targeting the symptoms or the underlying problem.
Some common non-surgical treatment options to relieve back and neck pain include:
- Hot or cold compresses: Applying heat or ice on the affected region of the back or neck over a towel to relieve pain and inflammation
- Physical therapy: Staying active and performing core, muscle strengthening and stretching exercises to relieve pain and improve strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Manipulation, mobilization and massage
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation
- Pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioid medications (like morphine), anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants and antidepressants
- Nerve block: Corticosteroids and/or anesthetics are usually injected into the epidural space (space between vertebrae and spinal cord) or facet joint (joints between vertebrae).
- Maintain good posture
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): low-voltage electric pulses are targeted to stimulate the nerve that carries pain signals
- Bracing: Braces support your back or neck and allow it to heal after a sprain, strain or fracture.
There are many surgical procedures indicated for severe cases of back and neck pain that do not improve with conservative treatments. Surgery treats the underlying cause of pain and may include:
- Discectomy: removal of a diseased intervertebral disc compressing the spinal nerves causing pain
- Spinal fusion: removal of an intervertebral disc that is causing painful rubbing of the vertebrae followed by fusion of adjacent vertebrae with bone graft
- Artificial disc replacement: removal of intervertebral disc causing painful rubbing of the vertebra, and replacing the space with an artificial metal disc
- Spinal decompression: removal of part of the bone that is compressing a neighboring nerve
- Laminectomy: removal of parts of bone, bone spurs or ligaments
- Foraminotomy: the space through which nerve roots exit is widened by trimming bone at the sides of vertebrae
- Corpectomy: removal of the one or more vertebral bodies along with the discs and replacing with bone graft
- Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty: injection of bone cement to fuse fragments of compression fractures and stabilize the vertebra.
- Reduction: use of metal rods, screws and cages to support and stabilize reduced fractures