Non-Surgical Alternatives to Back Pain Relief

April 28, 2015 4:28 pm


Few things are worse than living with constant pain. Whether you’ve been in a car accident, injured a disc lifting something too heavy or you are simply getting older, back pain can be debilitating and decrease your overall quality of life. While some injuries or conditions eventually require surgery, there are many alternative treatments that can help relieve your pain that don’t require an invasive procedure. Not only are these procedures non-invasive, but they are considerably more affordable and less risky than many surgeries. Before you commit to going under the knife, you should consider these three non-surgical alternatives to back pain relief:


An Epidural Steroid Injection, also known as an ESI, is one of the most common procedures to relieve back pain. A simple explanation to the procedure: a physician “bathes” the location of the pain in steroids to decrease inflammation. The procedure takes approximately 5-10 minutes, and the steroids begin to take effect after 2-3 days.  These steroids provide relief for several days and possibly up to a few months. Epidural Steroid Injections can be slightly painful, but only for a brief moment while the local anesthetic is being injected. Unlike a surgical procedure, you should be able to return to work the next day. You can receive up to three treatments within a 6 month period.


Similar to an ESI, Facet Joint Blocks are a type of steroid injection. However, Facet Joint Blocks are injected directly into the facet joint rather than on the disc. This type of injection is a combination of anesthetic and steroids, which can not only help relieve pain, but also diagnose the source of pain. If a Facet Joint Block is successful in pain relief, it is clear that the pain is caused by this joint and a Radio Frequency Ablation can be performed.


Radiofrequency ablation, also known as RFA, is only performed after a Facet Joint Block procedure is successful. This procedure uses fluoroscopic (type of x-ray) guidance to see the affected nerve. Then, the physician inserts a solid metal needle connected to a radiofrequency machine into that nerve. Once the machine is activated, the radiofrequency waves “burn” the nerve and, as a result, temporarily eradicate the nerve’s function. This provides long-term relief can last several years.  According to WedMD, 70% of patients who receive the RFA treatment experience pain relief. There are very little risks associated with the procedure, most of which include bruising and swelling at the injection site. Otherwise, it is very safe and recovery time is minimal.

These three treatments are the most common for treating chronic pain, but there are many other options to try before agreeing to surgery. Surgeries can bring complications and other issues, so it is absolutely worth it to try a non-invasive procedure first. Your physicians will evaluate the success or failure of these treatments and help you asses the risk or benefits of a future surgical procedure. Though some conditions will still require surgery after receiving the above treatments, these treatments can provide temporary relief in the interim.

If you are suffering from chronic back pain or neck pain and you are considering surgery, contact the physicians at Oklahoma Pain Management first so we can try a non-surgical alternative. Our office staff can get you into our office within 24 hours and begin your treatment right away!