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Chronic Back Pain. No End in Sight

Feb 11, 2008
Chronic back pain is pain that generally lasts longer than 3 months. Like any long lasting pain, it can interfere with normal daily functioning and create emotional and psychological, as well as, physical problems. There can be a fine line distinction between recurring and chronic pain, when the incidences of pain come close together over a long period of time. No matter how the pain is defined, it's important to deal with all of the contributors to chronic back pain.

Medical science has slowly been coming to the conclusion that controlling pain for some people is as much as about controlling the pain center responses in the brain as it is to fixing the physical cause of the pain. In other words, you may have a physical reason for the chronic back pain, but the pain can be much worse due to psychological factors such as stress or worry. You can also increase your back pain by reducing your physical activity in response to the pain, resulting in an increasing deteriorating physical condition.

There are many approaches that can be taken to deal with chronic back pain. A doctor can prescribe medicine that blocks the pain response in the brain. Surgery is sometimes suggested, though it's seldom the first choice. Often, the best way to deal with back pain is by increasing physical activity on a planned schedule.

All too often, people with back pain quit doing certain activities because of the pain. As a result, the muscles in the back weaken and are not exercised regularly. This can create even more pain as the spinal column fails to get adequate muscular support. Many people believe the only way to deal with chronic back pain is to take medicine, but that should be only one option you consider. Chronic back pain can often be temporarily lessoned with simple measure like ice or hot packs and massage. But when these fail, there are other alternatives.

* Trigger point injections of an anesthetic into the muscle area causing the most pain

* Minor surgery to implant electrodes along the spine to block pain signals from the brain (called spinal column stimulation)

* Spinal epidural which deadens the area on the spine where the pain is emanating

* Major surgery which such as a spinal fusion

Most of time some form of medication will be tried before deciding to have surgery. Surgery is the last resort, because it's the most invasive. Also, since the source of a lot of back pain can't be pinpointed, surgery becomes more exploratory than curing. Medications used to deal with chronic back pain include painkillers, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants and sedatives or anti-depressants. Since the feeling of pain starts in the brain, some drugs intended to calm a person mentally can sometimes result in less pain due to the changes they bring to brain chemicals.

As you can see, there are many alternatives to deal with chronic back pain. They range from temporary relief enabling you to handle a bout of long term recurring pain to invasive solutions.
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