The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


I have chronic back pain, but donít want an operation. What kinds of non-surgical treatments are available?

Assuming you have tried medications, therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture, there are still other minimally invasive treatments that may be of benefit.

Epidural steroid injections and selective nerve root blocks are procedures done with a needle. They may help to alleviate leg pain by surrounding the nerve root with powerful anti-inflammatory medicines like cortisone.

Facet blocks and median branch nerve blocks are also needle procedures. A pain killer and a cortisone-like drug is placed around small joints in the spine. These shots can decrease pain due to damaged or arthritic joints. Sacroiliac joint injections treat similar problems in the joint between the sacrum and the pelvis.

Radio frequency blocks are similar to steroid blocks but provide longer-lasting relief for some problems. Instead of injecting a pain medication near a nerve, the nerve is coagulated using an electric current applied through a tiny needle.

Intrathecal pain-medicine pumps and spinal-cord stimulators are both small machines placed inside the body. A pain pump delivers analgesic medicine directly to the space around the spinal cord. A spinal cord stimulator is a device that passes a tiny electrical current around parts of the spinal cord. It stops the pain signal from reaching the brain.

There are many more options for pain. Ask your spine specialist.



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Last modified: 07/27/08