Spinal Non-Operative Treatments FAQs

 

I keep reading about Spine specialists prescribing Glucosamine for arthritis. Will this medication help my back pain?

Studies show that Glucosamine can help relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis. However, these were short-term trials spanning a four to eight week period. Since osteoarthritis is a chronic problem, more studies will need to be done to investigate the long-term benefits of Glucosamine.

 

A second question is whether people with osteoarthritis of the spine will get the same benefits as those with knee osteoarthritis. At this time, no one knows for sure. Some Spine specialists feel there are enough benefits to encourage their patients to supplement with Glucosamine. Although you may find some relief, there are no studies yet that show with certainty that your back pain will be relieved by taking Glucosamine. As with all medications, be sure to discuss the use of Glucosamine with your Spine specialist before beginning to take this supplement.

 

Can I just use a brace to take my low back pain away?

Your Spine specialist may prescribe a supportive brace to help rest your spine, especially if you are feeling severe pain or have increased pain with movement. Using the brace for a short period of time may help you avoid extra movement and give your spine time to heal. You should remove the brace several times each day in order to do some gentle range of motion exercises. Long-term use of a brace can weaken your spine muscles and make your problem worse instead of better.

 

Which is better to use, heat or ice?

Ice is generally prescribed in the early stages of healing. This period begins at the time your pain or injury starts and lasts up to three days. The cold temperature makes your blood vessels in the sore area vasoconstrict (vase-oh-con-strict ) (become narrower), which helps with the initial stages of healing. Cold treatments can include cold packs or ice bags, which are usually put on the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Heat is generally used after the early stages of healing are over. Heat makes your blood vessels vasodilate (vase-oh-dye-late) (get larger). This helps flush away chemicals that can cause pain. It also helps to bring in nutrients and oxygen, which help the area heal. True heat in the form of a moist hot pack, a heating pad, or warm shower or bath, is better than creams that give the feeling of heat. Hot packs are usually placed on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes. When using heat, you must be careful to make sure your skin does not overheat and burn. It is also not a good idea to sleep with an electric heating pad at night. This can cause the “lobster effect” where your skin becomes red and actually burns from the prolonged heat.

 

As long as I have therapy I feel better. Can I keep coming once each week?

Some of the treatments your physical therapist (PT) uses are designed to give you relief from your symptoms. It is hoped that your treatments will give you a longer and longer period of relief between your scheduled visits. As you show steady signs of improvement in controlling symptoms and doing home exercises, your PT will schedule your visits further apart. The goal is to help you learn to manage your condition, even in the unfortunate event that your symptoms do not go away completely. Eventually, you may only need a visit every so often to refresh your exercises and to go over any new concerns you may have. Otherwise, people do not usually continue physical therapy on an ongoing basis.

 

Is there anything I can do now to help ease my pain?

Something you can do right away to relieve your pain is to use heat or ice. Cold treatments are usually used right after back pain or injury begins. The cold temperature makes the blood vessels in the sore area vasoconstrict (vase-oh-con-strict) (become narrower). This helps your body in the initial stages of healing. Cold treatments can include cold packs or ice bags, which are generally put on the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Heat can be used after the early stages of healing are over—usually at least two or three days after the injury or pain began. Heat makes blood vessels vasodilate (vase-oh-dye-late) (get larger). This helps your body flush away chemicals that can cause pain. It also helps to bring in nutrients and oxygen, which help the area heal. True heat in the form of a moist hot pack, a heating pad, or warm shower or bath, is better than creams that give the feeling of heat. Hot packs are usually placed on the sore area for 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful that your skin does not overheat and burn. It is also not a good idea to sleep with an electric heating pad at night, which can lead to the “lobster effect” where your skin turns red and actually burns from the prolonged heat.

 

My friend told me about a TENS unit she uses for her back pain. What is a TENS unit, and will it work for me?

TENS is short for transcutaneous (trans-kew-tay-nee-us) (across the skin) electrical nerve stimulation. TENS uses a small, pocket-sized electrical stimulation unit. It can be used up to 24 hours a day if needed to help control pain. It is usually issued by a physical therapist (PT), but only if you have not found other ways to control your pain. Also, a prescription from your Spine specialist is required for you to use one of these units on your own.

 

TENS treatment stimulates your nerves by sending a small electrical current gently through your skin. Some people say it feels sort of like a massage on their skin. Electrical stimulation can ease pain by sending impulses that your brain feels instead of pain. Two respected scientists discovered a theory, called the Gate Theory. It says that when you feel a sensation other than pain, like rubbing, massage, or even a mild electrical impulse, your spinal column will actually “close the gate” and not let pain impulses pass to your brain.

 

In the case of electrical stimulation, the electrical impulses speed their way across your skin and onto your central nervous system much faster than pain. By getting there first, the electrical information “closes the gate” to pain, blocking its passage to the brain. Once the pain eases, muscles that are in spasm can begin to relax, letting you move and exercise with less discomfort. Other settings on the unit can be used to help your body release endorphins (en-dor-fins). Endorphins are natural chemicals produced by your body that can lower the sensation of pain for up to eight hours at a time.

 

Will I need to have therapy until my pain goes completely away?

Because back pain is unpredictable, it is not realistic to expect that you will be pain-free when you complete your therapy treatments. Every effort will be made to help take your pain away, but you should measure success by how well you can manage your spine condition—even if you still have pain.

 

The first goal of treatment is to find ways of controlling your pain and symptoms. This can include the use of treatment interventions like heat, ice, and manual therapy. By helping you understand how your spine works and which positions and movements can be used to protect your back and neck, you may find it easier to manage your pain and symptoms. As your symptoms begin to ease, you will be given specific exercises to improve your mobility and strength. An important part of helping you manage your spine condition is called functional training, which can include posture and alignment, safe body movements at home and at work, and safe lifting techniques.

 

Once your pain is controlled, your range of motion has improved, and your strength has started to return, you will be progressed to a final home therapy program. Your physical therapist will go over ways to take care of your soreness at home, and you will be given exercises to continue improving the range of motion, strength, and function of your spine.

 

Will my Spine specialist prescribe medications for my condition?

Mild pain medications can reduce inflammation and pain when taken properly. Medications you may be prescribed include:

 

Aspirin — over-the-counter pain relievers that can help relieve minor pain and back ache.

NSAIDs — non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are very effective in relieving the pain associated with muscle strain and inflammation.

Non-narcotic analgesics — relieve pain at the point of injury.

Narcotic pain medications — help relieve severe pain by numbing the central nervous system.

Muscle relaxants — help a little in relieving pain from muscle spasm.

Antidepressants — help relieve the emotional stress that often compounds the symptoms of back pain.

General Caution: All medications can have side effects. Be sure to discuss these with your Spine specialist before beginning to take any of these medications.

 

My spine is really hurting but my Spine specialist recommends conservative treatment. What is conservative treatment? Will it help as much as surgery?

Back specialists use the term “conservative treatment” to describe any treatment that does not involve surgery. Sometimes, this can be as simple as reassuring you that it is not a serious problem, and recommending that you do nothing but watch and wait. Conservative treatment can also include medications to relieve your pain, physical therapy, and exercise. People with back and neck pain should also learn how to protect their spine by practicing good posture and doing strengthening exercises.

 

How much longer will I need physical therapy?

The goal of physical therapy is to help you control your pain and regain your best possible function. Once your pain is controlled, your range of motion is improved, and your strength is returning, you will be progressed to a final home program. Your therapist will give you some ways to take care of soreness at home, and to keep working on your range of motion and strength too.

 

In my practice as a spine surgeon in Bangalore at Bangalore spine specialist clinic as an orthopaedic spine surgeon in Bangalore, I have come across that people in Bangalore are unaware about all the non operative modalities available for spinal treatment. Bangalore spine specialist Clinic, the best orthopaedic spine clinic in Bangalore agrees with the above details relating to the non operative treatment of back pain and neck pain. Best spine surgeon in Bangalore can deal with back pain and neck pain. Top Spine Surgeons in Bangalore can provide proper evaluation and treatment for back pain in Bangalore