Pain Management: What is It, Types and Relief

Back PainTreatments

A plenty of options to provide lower back pain relief and tips for chronic back pain sufferers.

People with chronic back pain may have already tried an array of non-invasive pain management methods to dull the ache, including exercise, medications, physical therapy, hot and cold packs and other techniques. But many don't know about three innovative non-surgical chronic pain management procedures that can radically increase the odds of longer-term relief, according to a pain management specialist at Atlantic Spine Center. With back pain affecting 80% of adults at some point in their lives, learning about this trio of procedures should be considered Back Pain Management 101, along with all the other conservative pain management options used to keep up an active lifestyle in the midst of recurring back pain.

"Many people with chronic back pain are aware how common the problem is, but don't think to visit a health care provider who specifically treats patients dealing with it every day," says the ASC team. "That needs to change if they're to avail themselves of the widest possible array of non-invasive chronic back pain treatment options that might help them live their lives normally again, painlessly."

Types of Pain

Pain is used to describe different sensations in the body. To make it more clear, what a patient means and what pain relief medication they need, there are several types of pain distinguished.

Acute pain starts suddenly and only lasts for a short period. It can be caused by an injury.

Chronic pain persists for over six months and can start as acute pain, but then continue. Such pain is usually caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, or even cancer.

Breakthrough pain is sudden as acute pain. It feels as an increase in pain in those who are already taking medications to relieve chronic pain. Such a pain is usually referred to as a flare. It can happen after physical activity, coughing, or be caused by stress.

Bone pain is associated with conditions that affect the structure or function of bones, such as fractures, infection, cancer, etc.

Nerve pain can be described as a sharp, shooting, burning or stabbing pain, which is caused by nerve damage or inflammation. It is quite similar to acute pain and can be caused by an injury, cancer, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, etc.

Phantom pain usually occurs in those who have a limb amputated, but it feels as if the missing limb is aching.

Soft tissue pain results from degenerative processes or inflammation in the muscles, tissues, or ligaments.

Referred pain feels as if it were coming from one particular location, but it is the result of an injury or inflammation in another place. It is sometimes called radiating pain.

Causes of Pain

We have already covered some causes of pain. The most typical causes are injuries, as well as inflammation. Some symptoms can also be caused by arthritis, bulging discs, sprains and strains. More rarely, pain is one of cancer symptoms.


Pain medication might include prescription drugs like oral steroids or – for short periods – opioid analgesics, and muscle relaxers; over-the-counter remedies such as non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs (NSAIDS) like naproxen and ibuprofen.

Remember to consult a doctor if you experience any discomfort in your back or suspect a back injury. Getting a proper diagnosis and choosing the correct pain medication is key to easing the pain you feel in the back.


Epidural steroid injections deliver a long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic into the epidural space in the spinal cord. The steroid cuts inflammation and irritation of the nerves, and the anesthetic interrupts the transmission of pain signals. Epidural steroid injections are commonly used for many causes of back pain, including radiculitis (pain that radiates from an irritated spinal nerve root); degenerative disc disease; spinal stenosis; herniated discs; sciatica, and as nerve pain medication.

Alternative treatment

If your doctor approves, you can also add alternative therapies for nerve pain relief to your treatment plan. Some alternative treatments can be additional treatment to pain relief medicine. For example, you can try traditional Chinese medicine therapy Acupuncture. It has many benefits and offers pain relief in many patients. Hypnosis, chiropractic care, and Reiki are also among the possible options.

Acupuncture is a procedure common in traditional Chinese medicine. It is primarily used to treat pain, as a stress-management technique and other conditions. During this procedure, a doctor inserts thin needles through the skin at strategic points to provide pain relief.

Some forms of massage therapy can be helpful to relax tight muscles and improve circulation. Massage therapy is becoming more popular and known as a way to strengthen and elongate muscles while improving blood flow and relaxing the body and mind. Particularly for those who suffer from back pain, massage can offer multiple benefits as a form of healing.

Physical therapy

You can also join physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy for back pain is to strengthen the muscles of the spine, abdomen, buttocks, and hips; stretch tight muscles like the hamstrings; increase core strength; and improve aerobic conditioning with gentle exercises like walking, and water therapy.

If your doctor recommends physical therapy, it's important to prioritize this form of lower back pain treatment. You'll learn how to move and do activities in a way that prevents pain and keeps your back in a safe position.

Another benefit of physical therapy is that it also teaches patients how to get out of bed or up from a chair safely; how to dress and undress; and how to keep their back safe when doing other activities, which include lifting and carrying items.

Other treatment options

Radiofrequency nerve ablation, also known as radiofrequency lesioning or neurotomy, this treatment uses a specialized device to block nerve signals in affected spinal areas, with relief lasting 3 to 18 months. Fluoroscopic x-rays allow the accurate placement of a special heated probe next to affected nerves. Radiofrequency nerve ablation is used to treat spinal arthritis; stenosis; facet arthritis; whiplash; and sprains and strains.

A spinal cord stimulator involves inserting electrical wires into the spinal canal to stimulate the spinal cord, producing electrical impulses that interfere with pain signal transmission to the brain. Painful spinal cord stimulation is then replaced with a more pleasant tingling sensation in areas where the pain is usually felt. Spinal cord stimulation is done on patients whose previous spine surgery failed, or have severe nerve-related pain or numbness, or have neuropathic pain and surgery is not an option.

Tips and advantages to non-surgical procedures

All treatments have pros and cons, but this trio of non-surgical back pain management techniques boasts an impressive list of advantages, according to the ASC team. Not only are they minimally invasive, but they require minimal or no blood loss, reduce reliance on pain medications, and don't involve the removal of muscle or bone.

An additional benefit really stands out: The pain relief these procedures provide can help confirm a patient's specific diagnosis – the initial cause of their back pain. Pinpointing the diagnosis can then help doctors decide what may eradicate the pain permanently.

"Many of these procedures take less than an hour to complete, and patients can go right back to work or other activities," a doctor from the ASC team says. "From a quality of life aspect, these treatments are great. I'm hoping more chronic back pain sufferers learn more about them in order to take advantage of these benefits and get back to doing their favorite things without nagging pain."