The type of medication recommended by your doctor depends on the intensity of your pain. Mild pain is generally treated with over the counter (OTC) medication, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and topical painkillers. If this medication does not provide pain relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication, such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, prescription NSAIDs, or painkillers. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend a nerve block, which is an injection of a nerve-numbing medication into a particular area of the body.
An epidural is an injection of an anesthetic, analgesic, steroids, or anti-inflammatory medications into the space around the spinal cord, which is called the epidural space. The purpose of an epidural is to provide prolonged pain relief and reduce inflammation and swelling in the areas surrounding the spinal nerve roots. The pain relief generally lasts several months. Epidurals relieve pain in the neck, arms, back, and legs that are caused by inflamed spinal nerves due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy (TENS) utilizes electrical stimulation to reduce pain. This therapy involves sending a mild electric current to electrodes placed near the location of your pain. The electric current stimulates the nerve cells near the pain source, thereby modifying the brain’s perception of pain. This therapy is typically used to treat back, neck, and knee pain.
Physical therapy utilizes specialized exercises and stretches to reduce pain and restore mobility, strength, and function. Your physical therapist may also use electrical stimulation, hot packs, cold compresses, and ultrasound. This treatment modality is a conservative and a non-surgical treatment option.
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that involves inserting thin needles in strategic places in your body. Acupuncture decreases pain by increasing endorphins, which block the signal of pain sent to the brain. Acupuncture is typically used to treat headaches, low back pain, neck pain, and knee pain. This treatment modality is often used in conjunction with other pain management techniques.
Chiropractic treatment is a common non-surgical treatment option. This treatment effectively addresses neck and back pain. Chiropractic treatment involves a chiropractor uses his or her hands or a special instrument to manipulate the spine. The goal of this treatment is not only to reduce pain, but to restore spinal motion and function.
Massage is another common non-surgical treatment option. Massage is particularly used to address neck and back pain by reducing tension and increasing blood flows in these areas.