My mom wants me to see a doctor for my chronic low back pain. It's been aggravating me ever since I had my second child. But I don't want drugs and I don't want surgery, so what's the point?
Your desire for a nonpharmacologic (nondrug) approach to treatment is one that many people share. And for that reason, more alternative options are available than ever before. Studies show that traditional medical approaches just don't help everyone. The goal is to find the right mix of therapies that works best for each person. Finding a physician who is willing to devise a treatment plan tailored to your specific situation may help. If your back pain was linked with childbirth, there may be hormonal and mechanical issues to sort through. The medical doctor will be able to do some testing to see if there is an underlying medical cause for the back pain. When there are mechanical problems in the lumbar spine or sacroiliac joint, a physical therapist can help with exercises and mobilization or manipulation to help restore normal alignment and movement. Physical therapists can often identify problems with posture, movement, and alignment that may contribute to the development and recurrence of low back pain. An individually designed rehab program can help restore spinal alignment, normal muscle function, and motor coordination. Many therapists combine traditional approaches with other physical modalities such as yoga, Pilates, and/or relaxation techniques to aid in recovery and then maintain spinal health. There are helpful alternatives for patients like you who are looking for noninvasive, nondrug ways to reduce painful symptoms or at least improve function when pain doesn't change. Massage and acupuncture also seem to have some benefit in terms of enhancing healing. Long-term effects are not as likely (i.e., these techniques don't prevent future episodes of back pain). There's no reason to suffer when there are options that can help.