Many back and neck problems are the result of issues with the bones, discs, or pressure on the nerves. This may cause the patient to feel pain, numbness or lack of sensation, tingling, reduction in mobility, and loss of strength. Treatment of the condition may involve some type of surgical procedure. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the doctor recommends a more conservative approach. What exactly does that mean?
Some spinal conditions respond well to a conservative approach, or nonsurgical treatments. These may include physical therapy, interventional pain management, pharmacological pain management, and spinal bracing. Following a thorough neurological examination along with appropriate diagnostic tests, the neurosurgeon will determine whether a conservative approach is the right course of treatment.
Functional rehabilitation, commonly known as physical therapy, is often a preferred non-operative treatment. It can help relieve pain, improve movement and balance, and build strength, flexibility, and endurance. It may include therapeutic exercises, nerve stimulation, ultrasound, ice and heat therapies, massage, and orthopedic manipulation. The physical therapist will work to develop a plan to help the patient feel better and improve functionality. Because all patients are different, the number of physical therapy sessions required will depend on specific needs and goals.
Interventional pain management
This type of injection therapy can be used to control pain from spinal disorders. Treatments may be prescribed in the form of nerve block medications, epidural steroid injections, or radiofrequency nerve ablation. Injections are sometimes used along with physical therapy to control pain from degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, pinched nerves, and spinal injury. They help reduce pain and inflammation. Nerve blocks may be used to treat both chronic and acute pain.
Pharmacological pain management
The doctor may prescribe pain medications including opioids, muscle relaxants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Narcotics are typically used short term. Muscle relaxants can help relieve muscle spasms and cramps. Some of these medications have side effects, so it is important to take them only as directed.
These external devices are used to stabilize and support the spine. Spinal braces can be rigid or soft, depending on the patient’s condition and needs. Sometimes the patient will be instructed to wear the brace only during specific activities that can put them at risk. Support braces can help speed healing while preventing further injury.
If you are suffering from back or neck pain, the neurosurgeons at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care are ready to help you find relief. Their expertise is the diagnosis and treatment of spinal injuries and disorders. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We see patients at seven convenient metro Atlanta locations.