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There are a number of options to keep the pain of a bad back under control:
Physical exercise: Physical exercise is undoubtedly the most important. You will have to do some regular exercises for your back; this is usually a very successful method. Link
Heat compresses: Heat compresses either superficially with a warm heat pack, or deep heat with ultrasound therapy, should be tried.
Medications: The first line of pain control drugs is the NSAIDS. In severe pain however, not controlled by NSAIDS, narcotic analgesics like Vicodin should be used. You should talk with your doctors regarding use of narcotic analgesics. Drugs like phenytoin, carbamazepine, or tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline are often used in combination with such drugs for more deeper pain control.
Steroids: steroid injections may be given at the site .
Back support: A lumbar belt worn regularly by itself often helps to relieve the nerves. Braces, splints, orthopaedic shoes may be needed.
Lumbar traction: This is another option that you should discuss with your neurosurgeon. Traction often helps to relieve the pain making surgery unnecessary.
Pain pump: for chronic intractable pain, a constant source of analgesic drugs can be fed into the spine at the nerve roots. This is also a very effective method.
General measures like a firm mattress for sleeping, avoiding bending the waist forward, avoiding lifting heavy weights, should be practiced. Other measures may include vocational counseling, occupational therapy, etc.
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