Chronic neck and back pain

Chronic back or neck pain can put a damper on life. Learn how treatment can get you back in the game.

Chronic back pain or neck pain can have many causes, including prior injury, age and overuse. Pain is considered chronic if it lasts more than three months. It can come and go, which can be frustrating. Here are some treatments for chronic back pain.

The first step is diagnosis. Your health care provider typically can get all the necessary information from a physical examination.

“We look at your ability to stand, sit down and walk,” said Kathryn J. McCarthy, M.D., spine surgeon with Norton Leatherman Spine. “We might check your reflexes and strength. In some cases, we might need to dig deeper with other tests like an X-ray.”

Treating back pain without surgery

Make an appointment

Chronic neck and back pain making things hard? Make an appointment with Norton Leatherman Spine Back & Neck Pain Clinics.

Once the general cause of your back pain is determined, there are many nonsurgical options, including:

  • Medication: This could be a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, or muscle relaxants.
  • Heat and ice therapy: Ice packs, warm compresses and heating pads also may relieve discomfort.
  • Exercise and physical therapy: These methods can increase flexibility, strengthen the muscles of the core and back, and improve posture. You can learn to avoid triggering back pain by correctly performing exercises without overworking the muscles.
  • Complementary therapies: These treatments include massage, acupuncture and meditation, and have been shown to improve symptoms.

Back surgery to treat chronic back pain

“Sometimes we try all the nonsurgical options, and there is still no relief,” Dr. McCarthy said. “When those methods have been exhausted, it might be time to discuss surgical interventions.”

You should spend time talking to your health care provider about what might be the best course of treatment for you and your specific type of chronic back pain.

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