Neck pain therapy options

This article discusses some of the most common neck pain therapy options, as well as treatments to relieve lower back pain.

Medications are the most common treatment.  Most patients are prescribed at least one medication and often two or more.  While effective in the short term, medication is not a substitute for other strategies for dealing with pain and preventing the problem from recurring.

A prescription for physical therapy from the doctor may prove to be very effective.  Early treatment by a physical therapist might mean faster recovery.  The therapist can also prescribe exercises to be done by the patient at home.  It is amazing how much improvement you can get with a good program of physical therapy.  Make sure to get a recommendation from your doctor for a good therapist, it makes all the difference.

Many patients seek the help of a chiropractor when dealing with neck and back pain.  There is more evidence that spinal manipulation works for low back pain but many insurance companies consider it to be “alternative medicine.”  Research has found that chiropractic care and exercises done by the patient at home are very effective in treating back and neck pain and provided longer lasting relief than medication.  Treatment by a chiropractor should not be considered for patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or nerve damage.  Symptoms of nerve damage are numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.  Chiropractic adjustments are mainly in the spine to move the spine beyond its usual range of motion.

Osteopathic physicians also use manipulation to relieve back pain.  The osteopath manipulates the soft tissue and muscles near the spine rather than the spine itself.  Osteopathic manipulation is more gentle that that performed by a chiropractor. Osteopaths are licensed and can prescribe medication as well.

There are many pain medications recommended for back and neck pain.  It is most important to choose the safest, most effective medication.  Most doctors prefer to start the patient on over the counter nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs like Motrin.  There is evidence that Tylenol is effective for chronic back pain, especially low back pain.  Ibuprofen (Advil) may also be prescribed for treating the pain.  Use of opiates to treat back pain is controversial.  They may be prescribed for severe pain but should be used for only a short time as they can be habit forming and may cause serious side effects.  Steroid injections may be given near the nerve roots if the diagnosis is pain caused by nerve damage or pinching.

Traction, using weights and pulleys, can relieve some types of neck pain.  Treatment with traction must be supervised by a doctor and a physical therapist.  Some neck pain can be helped by short term use of a soft collar to take pressure of the neck.  Braces may be used to restrict movement or to provide support during activities.  They may also be used when a patient has to sit for long periods.  Corsets also provide stability and can be worn under clothing.

It is recommended by most physicians that surgery should be the last resort for neck and back pain and should be used only to treat a specific diagnosis.  Most people should not have back surgery.




Arthritis Today.  “Getting Back at Back Pain.”


O’Connor, Anahad.  “For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise are Better Than Drugs.”  New York Times Well Blogs.


Rover, Elena.  “What to Do About Back Pain.”  More Magazine.





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