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Are you or a loved one suffering from chronic back pain?

Get on the road to opioid-free pain relief

Just about everyone suffers from back pain at some point in their life. In fact, studies have shown that back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), in the United States alone, Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on this condition that affects 31 million people in the country.

While we refer to lower back pain as a general term, it is classified under two categories: acute (also known as “short term”) and chronic back pain. Acute back pain is a result of an abrupt injury to the muscles and/or ligaments supporting the back and if treated immediately and properly, generally lasts a few days. Chronic back pain, however, is defined as pain that persists for 3 months or longer and can be the result of an injury that wasn’t treated properly. If you suffer from chronic back pain, our orthopedic experts at OrthoNOW recommend the following tips:

  1. Alternate hot/cold: when suffering from back pain it’s important to balance out a hot and cold compress. Applying heat to your back relaxes tense muscles and improves blood flow which carries the nutrients and oxygen that muscles need in order to heal. However, if your back is hurting due to inflammation, it’s necessary to apply a cold pack to reduce swelling.
  2. Modify physical activity: when sustaining a back injury, it’s also very important to modify your physical activities to prevent aggravation. Experts recommend resting in short periods as too much inactivity can make the healing process more arduous.
  3. Stretching Exercises: there are certain muscles in the low back, buttocks, hips and legs that support the weight of the upper body. Experts recommend stretching these muscles carefully to provide more flexibility, hence allowing the back to move freely without injury.
  4. See an orthopedic specialist: if your pain has worsened or become unmanageable with home remedies, it’s important to be seen by an orthopedic expert. Specialists in orthopedics understand the importance of the neuro-musculoskeletal systems and can diagnose the root of the pain and recommend an integrated treatment plan that includes physical therapy. In addition to orthopedic clinicians, PTs can decrease your pain, increase function and teach you how to maintain a program that prevents future back problems.

Treatment options for chronic back pain can be similar in nature to those for acute pain. However, there are other elements that need to be taken into consideration. Identifying the cause of the condition is important in the treatment process in order to assess the pain correctly. The most common causes of chronic back pain are arthritis of the spine, spinal stenosis, disc problems, myofascial pain syndrome, and past injuries. Due to the increasing pain patients feel, many doctors prescribe opiate-based drugs as part of their pain management plan. However, many experts are strongly recommending caution when taking opioids, due to their addictive qualities.

It is well known that the United States is battling an opioid crisis. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), of the 20.5 million Americans that had a substance disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance disorder involving prescription pain relievers. For that reason, there has been a large movement towards opioid safety in our nation. “The focus on opioid safety in this country has many implications to chronic pain management,” said Dr. David Ross, President of the Comprehensive Neurobehavioral Institute. “My assessment is that patients seeking opioid therapy will be forced into strict adherence, but equally important, patient expenses will increase dramatically and there will be long lines and waits.”

While opioids have their place in some treatment plans, a rising number of experts in the field encourage alternate treatment plans for patients. Some healthcare clinics, such as OrthoNOW, are supporters of integrated approaches towards the treatment of chronic back pain. With a rigorously trained staff of orthopedic specialists, including surgeons, specialized physician assistants, physical therapists and occupational therapists, OrthoNOW finds the proper treatment plan for patients and walks them through their recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from back pain contact your nearest OrthoNOW Center for help. To access locations and services visit www.orthonowcare.com or download our award-winning mobile app at www.orthonowmobileapp.com.