Today, patients have a wide variety of pain management therapies, ranging from simple exercises to advanced pain management techniques. Because the underlying cause of chronic back or leg pain varies from patient to patient, there is not one complete solution. It may help to remember that finding relief may take time, and you may need to explore multiple therapies to discover which works best for you. Using several different therapies together is generally thought to yield the best outcome.1-3 One of the best therapies for living with chronic back or leg pain may be distraction. Try not to let the pain overwhelm you and, instead, stay active at work and home, as much as you can.
Lumbar stabilization exercises strengthen trunk and pelvic muscles, correcting muscular imbalances that can contribute to your pain. Your physician may be able to refer you to a physical therapist who can develop a program tailored to your needs. It’s important to stay active, as prolonged inactivity can exacerbate pain. Yoga, pilates, walking, and stretching are just a few forms of exercise that can provide benefit.
Yoga helps strengthen the muscles responsible for stabilizing your ‘core’ and decreasing the load on the spine. You may not be able to run a marathon, but even 30 minutes of slow walking a day can build strength, keep you healthy, and prevent deconditioning.
It may take some creative thinking on your part, but identifying and reducing sources of constant stress in your life can help reduce pain. Pay attention to your relationships with others; seek counseling or support as needed. Fostering social interactions through support groups and maintaining a positive outlook are good coping strategies.
Pain clinics assess your level of pain and loss of function, applying a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Medication, as well as massage therapy or acupuncture may be recommended. In addition, epidural steroid injections or nerve blocks are sometimes given in an effort to provide significant pain relief. Nonsurgical treatments can be a viable initial approach to help you manage chronic back or leg pain and get on with the business of living. If non-surgical treatment fails, then minimally disruptive spine surgery may be an option for you to consider.
1. Cohen I, Rainville J. ‘Aggressive exercise as treatment for chronic low back pain.’ Sports Med. 2002;32(1):75-82. Review. PubMed PMID: 11772162. 2. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ‘Researchers Recommend Multidisciplinary Approach Of Low Back Pain.’ Science Daily 11 September 2005. 8 December 2009 3. Whitten C, Donovan M, Cristobal K. ‘Treating Chronic Pain: New Knowledge, More Choices.’ The Permanente Journal. Fall 2005 Vol 9 No. 4.