Non-surgical Options:

Activity Modification and Proper Lifting

The initial modification is rest, then slowly increasing activity with proper lifting mechanics including bending at the knees and not bending the back.

Weight Loss

Losing weight can drastically take the strain off the back.  If you gain 10 lbs., your back feels an additional 70 lbs.  If you lose 10 lbs., your spine feels 70 lbs. less.

Stop Smoking

People who smoke have a higher incidence of neck and back pain due to a  decreased blood supply to the spine leading to early aging of the spine.


Medications can be a  good short term treatment for spinal problems.  Here is a list of the most commonly used medications to treat back problems:

1. NSAIDs – Advil, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Celebrex. These medications work well for mild pain and arthritis. However, medications can cause stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bleeding, heart disease, and liver disease.

2. Steroids – These medications work well for pinched nerves which can cause arm or leg pain. However, these medications are typically used only for a few days. If taken in large doses and for long periods, steroids can cause infections, hair loss, weight gain, ulcers, and osteoporosis (soft bones).

3. Narcotics – pain pills, Lortab, Darvocet, Hydrocodone. These medications take the edge off of pain. Typically, narcotics are used for severe pain and only used for a few weeks. These medications are addictive, nauseating and sedative.

4. Muscle relaxants – Robaxin, Flexaril, Valium, Soma. These medications are used for back spasm and back pain. Muscle relaxants are typically used for only a few weeks. These medications are addictive and sedating.

5. Pain modifiers – Lyrica, Neurontin. These medications help chronic pain and work well on leg and foot pain especially with neuropathy. Lyrica and Neurontin do not help all patients and can be sedative.

Spinal Injections


These injections can be performed under x-ray. The procedure involves numbing the skin and then injecting the spine with steroids to calm down the inflammation in a specific area of the spine. It typically works well for arm and leg pain, but can only be utilized about three times a year.

Spinal Bracing/Spinal Orthosis
Spinal bracing/support is sometimes used for a short period of time to help an individual develop appropriate body mechanics by limiting potentially harmful movements.  Spinal bracing is also used after certain operations to aid in rehabilitation.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can often be beneficial.  The goals should be to improve flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance.