Back Pain Management Topics and Resources

Back pain management includes the medications and treatments that are provided to patients as part of a rehabilitation program, or as a palliative care for chronic pain conditions. While ideally, a person's treatment program would include physical therapy, healthy exercises, and healthy foods to rehabilitate the body, in reality many patients are in terrible pain that they can just not live with using natural solutions alone. Some of these pain management treatments are intended to provide long-term care to patients with conditions that have a poor prognosis. Some of these pain management treatments are designed to provide enough temporary relief to get patients through acute back pain cases and tough physical therapy programs. These treatments use the latest pharmaceutical technological innovations that are offered by the medical sciences. Let's take a look at the latest pain management topics and resources.

Electrotherapy: Electrotherapy involves the use of various energy frequencies that are intended to penetrate the skin of the body to provide patients with some degree of pain relief. The delivery of energy involves a powered machine, electrodes, and electrode patch that adheres to the skin of the patient. The energy that is transmitted through these patches affects the body by blocking the nerve's ability to transmit pain signals through to the spine and brain. Electrotherapy may also provide pain relief by promoting the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relievers produced by the body. These therapies may also have the effect of inhibiting the inflammatory response of injured tissues, in a similar way as would be provided by anti-inflammatory medications or icing the area. Electrical modalities include Galvanic Stimulation (GS), Inferential current (IFC), and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS).

Galvanic Stimulation (GS): Electrical stimulation, or electrotherapy, is a treatment in which an electrical current is drawn towards the nerves or body tissues that have been affected by trauma. The electrical stimulation as a treatment is designed to either block pain signals from traveling towards the brain, or to stimulate blood flow to the injured tissues in the healing process. Unlike IFC and TENS units that uses Alternating Current (AC) energy, the GS system employs the use of Direct Current (DC) energy.

Galvanic stimulation involves two stimulation pads that have opposite effects on the tissues they are applies to. Together, these two pads deliver opposite charged currents of energy that simultaneously inhibit inflammation while promoting healing. The negative pad prevents swelling and inflammation from occurring. The positive pad behaves like heat, causing increasing circulation, which stimulates and speeds healing.

Let's take a look at the two other devices that are used to make pain through electrical stimulation: TENS and Inferential Current (IFC)Units:

Inferential current (IFC): Inferential Current uses high frequencies to deliver electrical energy into the deeper tissues of the body, compared to the traditional TENS units. IFC transmits a high frequency (4000 Hz) carrier waveform that penetrates into the deeper soft tissues with less discomfort, compared to TENS units. These devices have been shown to provide clinical benefits to patients who have failed to receive pain relief from the TENS units. These devices usually run around $2000 per unit, however, making them cost prohibitive for home use , for most patients.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS): These units deliver electrical energy of various adjustable frequencies in order to inhibit certain nerve branches from transmitting pain signals to the brain. The transmission of energy is from machine to electrode to electrode pad to the body. The electrical energy is transmitted through the electrical pad on the skin and to the soft tissues and nerves. The frequencies transmitted from an electrical outlet charged machine are adjustable by the practitioner of home user. High-frequency ("conventional") stimulation produced wavelengths of (60-100Hz). This high-frequency stimulation is comfortable to tolerate, but provides a shorter window of pain relief. Low-frequency ("acupuncture-like") stimulation delivers wavelengths of energy that are <10Hz. These low-frequencies units of energy are more uncomfortable to tolerate, but provide longer lasting pain relief.

Cold Laser Therapy: Cold Laser Therapy is a treatment that sounds pretty futuristic and out there, but has actually been used in clinical practices for nearly half a century. This is the therapy that is used in laser surgery centers such as the Laser Spine Institute. While other types of back surgery involve incisions to cut and remove skin and muscle and the surgical removal of diseased disc material from in and around the spine, cold laser surgery involves laser removal. This surgery promises to offer the same clinical benefits of traditional surgeries without same trauma to the tissues.

There are three categories of medical lasers that are used in either the cosmetic or orthopedic medical arts:
  • Class 3a Low-Level Lasers
  • Class 3B Non-surgical Lasers
  • Class 4 surgical Lasers
Class 3a lasers generally do not penetrate through the deeper layers of the skin and are used to treat superficial wounds. Class 3B lasers have deeper penetrability and are used to heal joints and deep tissues.