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Understanding Back Pain -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Back Pain? continued...

If you consult a psychotherapist for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), your treatment may include stress management, behavioral adaptation, education, and relaxation techniques. CBT can often lessen the intensity of back pain, change perceptions about levels of pain and disability, and even lift depression. The NIH considers CBT useful for relieving low back pain, citing studies that show CBT to be superior to routine care and placebo. Other comprehensive behavioral programs have shown similar success, with participants able to lessen the amount of medication they needed while improving their outlook and pain-related behavior.

If lower back pain is related to muscle tension or spasm, biofeedback can be effective for lessening pain intensity, decreasing drug use, and improving quality of life. Biofeedback may help you train your muscles to respond better to stress or movement.

The Alexander Technique, Pilates, and the Feldendkrais Method are all specialized forms of body work that help you learn to move in a more coordinated, flexible, and graceful manner. More research is needed to see if they can help reduce pain. Some of the postures of yoga may help, improve flexibility, strength, and sense of balance. Yoga is good for stress reduction and can help with the psychological aspects of pain.

Aquatic therapy and exercise can also improve flexibility and decrease pain for some with chronic low back problems. The unique properties of water make it an especially safe environment for exercising a sore back; it provides gentle resistance, comfort, and relaxation.

For most chronic back pain patients, surgery is a treatment of last resort. The decision for surgery for back pain without nerve damage should only be made after non-surgical treatment has failed and the risks and benefits of surgery have been fully discussed.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 01, 2014

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