Given that back pain is considered the number one cause of disability around the world,1 it is not surprising that there are a wealth of treatment options available to patients.
Typically, non-surgical therapies are the first line of defense for non-life-threatening conditions. Patients may find relief through medications, physical therapy, electrical and manual manipulation (chiropractic), behavioral and lifestyle modifications, and alternative techniques like acupuncture and massage therapy.
With some diagnoses—tumors, severe neurological deficits, certain fractures, and infections—surgery or radiation therapy may likely be the first treatment choice. In many cases, these options may be curative, meaning that you need no further therapy once your condition is treated. In some tumor situations, surgery is followed up with radiation therapy to treat those cells that your surgeon is unable to remove. In other cases, radiation therapy may be delivered first to shrink the tumor before surgical removal.
Depending upon your diagnosis, you may be required to make serious treatment decisions very quickly. You should rely on your medical team to help guide your decision, using their knowledge and experience with what types of treatments typically work best with your back pain. At the same time, if there is time, it’s wise to seek out a second opinion if possible and before embarking on a treatment course involving surgery or radiation therapy. Searching area or regional hospitals with doctors who specialize in the treatment of your specific condition will help better inform your decision-making process.
A spine specialist will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the later side effects, of each different treatment option available.