Are you feeling overwhelmed by the number of non-surgical treatments available for back pain? Numerous options ranging from traditional to alternative are available, and they all have many variations.

For example, if you choose an alternative route, you could start with acupuncture or massage therapy. Realistically, you may need to try several types of treatments, or combination of treatments to find what works best for you.

Don't forget the simple things

Sometimes a few simple changes can make a big difference:

  • Ice application, heat therapy and/or moist heat are easy to do and may provide substantial back pain relief (e.g. during a bout of severe pain, following spine surgery, following pain caused by certain activities).
  • Try standing at your desk instead of sitting all day.
  • A single massage from a skilled massage therapist may alleviate pain from a pulled muscle.
  • Over time, regular stretching exercises and activity modification can also help prevent bouts of pain, and may be learned with the help of your doctor or therapist.
  • For more information see Ice Massage for Back Pain Relief and Physical Therapy: Passive PT (Modalities) for Back Pain.

Give injections a try

Injections offer relief for some - but not all - patients, and they can be used to help identify the source of pain.

We've heard from numerous patients on our forums that injections worked or didn't work for them. It seems like the only way to know if they'll work for you is to try them.

See Injections for Back Pain Relief

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Consider coordinated, multi-specialty care

Integrated spine clinics may include physiatrists, chiropractors, pain specialists, physical therapists, as well as surgeons.

The theory with this approach is that diagnosis/treatment of spinal disorders is often complex and may require expertise across a range of specialists, and that enhanced communication between different specialists in one clinic will lead to better quality of care.

To learn more, read Integrated Spine Clinics for Back Pain Treatment.

Know when to consider spine surgery

Sometimes the road to pain relief does include surgery. The most important thing you can do before having spine surgery is to have an accurate diagnosis. Don't be afraid to get a second opinion from a different spine surgeon.

Even though the prospect of spine surgery can be daunting, if you are in a lot of pain, we encourage you to understand your surgical, as well as non-surgical treatment options.

For more information see Back Surgery and Neck Surgery Overview and When to See a Surgeon for Low Back Pain

Finding a treatment that works for your back pain can be complicated because people tend to react very differently to different treatments. Educate yourself as much as possible, and don't be afraid to try new treatments.

See When to Seek Medical Care for Low Back Pain