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Chronic Back Pain: Non-Surgical Treatments, Prevention

Even if you’ve never experienced chronic back pain, it’s likely that you’ll eventually have to deal with it. About 80% of men and women report low back pain at some point in their lives. The condition occurs so often that it ranks as the most common cause of job-related disabilities and one of the leading reasons for missed workdays. 

Chronic back pain is pain that affects your daily living for at least three months. The condition occurs in up to 10% of low back pain cases. The symptoms can range from a dull ache to a piercing jab. Depending on the cause of your chronic back pain, you may be able to achieve relief without the risk and time associated with back surgery.  

Identifying the source of your chronic back pain is important in determining your treatment options. The Brian R. Subach, MD, FACS at Subach Spinal Solutions in Arlington, Virginia, provides expert diagnosis and effective treatment options for all types of chronic back pain. After a thorough examination, your physician advises options for non-surgical treatment that can give you the best chance for resuming a pain-free life. 

It can take up to six weeks to experience improvement from conservative, non-surgical treatments. However, these options can help you avoid the risk and recuperation associated with surgery. Find out more about the ways you can achieve relief from chronic back pain without surgery. 

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy uses controlled movements targeted to relieve the source of your chronic back pain. These exercises can help increase strength, improve flexibility, and restore normal range of motion. This helps strengthen your back, abdominal muscles, and hamstrings, all of which can relieve pressure on your back. Heat or cold may be combined with exercise to improve the results.

Your physical therapy sessions include movements designed to improve your specific circumstances. Exercise and movement can increase blood flow to the lower back area, which helps improve the connective fibers of your ligaments and tendons. This helps reduce stiffness and increase flexibility. 

Manual therapy

Manual therapy involves the use of hands to manipulate joints and apply pressure on muscle tissue. Techniques involve massage, kneading, joint mobilization, and muscle manipulation. This approach can be effective in decreasing back pain caused by muscle tension, spasm, and joint dysfunction.  

Steroid injections

Steroids are strong anti-inflammatory drugs that help to block back and leg pain when they’re injected close to a nerve. The effect can help relieve the pressure on your nerves and nerve roots caused by inflammation and swelling. While steroid injections can’t reverse the cause of your back pain, they can provide relief when given at prescribed intervals.  

Steroid injections can be particularly effective for the treatment of sciatica, a pain that travels from your back down the back of your legs and into your feet, and spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine.

Behavior modification

Behavior modification can help reduce your response to back pain. Relaxation techniques, coping techniques, and biofeedback can teach you to control muscle tension, blood pressure, and heart rate to improve symptoms. 


When used as directed by your physician, medication can alleviate chronic back pain and allow you to move freely. Your physician directs your use of medication based on risks of long-term use versus the results it provides. 

Common medications used to relieve chronic back pain include analgesics like acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and occasionally, narcotics.


Given the complex nature of achieving full relief from chronic back pain, it’s important to do all you can to maintain a healthy back and prevent the condition. You can work to achieve this by following these precautions:

Find out more about treating chronic back pain without surgery. Schedule an appointment online or call our office today for a consultation.

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