How to take strain off back pain

By Julie Deardorff
Tribune reporter
January 14, 2009

Chronic, debilitating back pain often drives adults to explore unconventional treatment options. In 2007, it was the most common reason adults tried alternative methods (17.1 percent), followed by joint pain or stiffness and/or other joint condition (5.2 percent), arthritis (3.5 percent) and other musculoskeletal conditions (1.8 percent), according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Here’s a look at the different options an integrative physician might draw on to treat back pain caused by muscle strain.

Conventional medicine: Treatment might involve physiotherapy, physical therapy, weight loss to decrease strain on back muscles, massage therapy, heat therapy or chiropractic adjustments, according to Dr. Christine Gustafson, an integrative physician in Georgia. Studies have shown the Alexander technique, which involves learning better posture, can also ease back pain. Medication usually consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease swelling. Narcotic analgesics can be used as well as skeletal muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine for spasms. Local and epidural injections may relieve chronic pain. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. More…