Back pain that lasts three months or longer can be considered chronic back pain. Usually, it comes and goes, often giving you temporary relief followed by frustration. It can be tiring to deal with chronic back pain and finding treatment without knowing the cause.

Here, we will give you an insight into some of the causes of chronic back pain and some non-surgical options for treatment. It is advisable to be consistent with the approach and try not to lose hope.

Common causes of chronic back pain

Generally, chronic back pain is age-related. It can arise from a prior injury as well. Some of the common reasons are:

Arthritis of spine: the gradual thinning of the spine cartilage.
Spinal stenosis: the narrowing of the spinal canal that leads to nerve pain.
Disc problems: herniated or bulging disc.
Myofascial pain syndrome: muscle pain and tenderness.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to pinpoint what is causing the chronic back pain. It is recommended to seek a back specialist if your primary doctor has already exhausted all diagnostic options. It is also recommended to wait to undergo medical procedures unless the factor that's causing the pain is found. Jumping into surgical options without knowing the exact cause of your pain may make it worse.

In a case where the source of the pain cannot be found or is untreatable, it is best to work with your doctor to find ways to minimize the flare-ups and to make the pain bearable with non-surgical treatments.

Non-surgical treatments

Physical therapy: The foundation of treatment for chronic back pain is physical therapy. This is generally the first non-surgical treatment that one should turn to under the guidance of a spine physical therapist or a physician. The same set of exercises usually don't work for everyone as they are generally tailored to suit the specific symptoms and condition of each patient.. Success with physical therapy is achieved through consistency.

Chronic back pain is countered with the following physical therapy practices

Retraining one's posture.
Flexibility and stretching exercises.
Core strengthening.

Meditation and mindfulness: Chronic back pain becomes both emotionally and physically draining with time. Frustration, depression, irritability, and few other psychological aspects arise, and to counter these you may be referred to a rehabilitation psychologist. This individual will recommend practices like meditation, yoga, and additional relaxation and cognitive techniques that will keep the mind calm and move the focus away from the pain.

Diet: We are what we eat, and if we eat high inflammatory food items that are high in trans fats, sugars, and other processed foods, then managing the pain will become a much more difficult task . Maintaining a healthy diet along with a proper height to weight ratio will help lessen back pain as it will reduce pressure on the spine and improve general mobility.

Modifications in lifestyle: When you're dealing with chronic pain, it is important not to strain yourself. General day to day activities should be carried out with more care. For example, if you are mowing the lawn, take more breaks. If you are getting groceries then take several trips so that you don't have to carry as much at once. Listen to your body, taking note of the activities that may aggravate the pain and perform physical tasks accordingly. Doing so can not only make you feel better but can also prevent the condition from worsening any further. Another essential thing to do is give up smoking as nicotine tends to accentuate pain and delay the healing process.

Injection treatments: Nerve ablations, nerve blocks, steroid injections, and few other injection treatments are available for chronic back pain. Such procedures are used when the source of the pain is known, and these treatments may stop or lessen the pain for a period but are not long term solutions. These treatments should be used in conjunction with other approaches. 

Following are some of the alternative therapies that have shown to be effective.

Acupuncture: A treatment that involves inserting very thin needles into different parts of the body. The goal is to use the needles to balance energy in the body and ultimately relieve pain.

Massage: Getting a weekly massage can ease up pain as the massage releases tension in the muscles and relaxes the body. Massage can increase circulation and also can help with stress.

Biofeedback: It is a relaxation technique that makes you conscious of some body processes that are generally subconscious. It helps with pain and is related to mindful meditation.

Pharmacologic treatments: Analgesics, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications are used to counter chronic back pain. But most of these medications come with prolonged side effects and are not suitable for long term use.

Chronic back pain, when left untreated, can become unbearable and overwhelming. It is essential to explore the non-surgical approaches mentioned here and for more information about your back pain, reach out to an orthopedist.