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Non surgical management of spinal pain
Non surgical management of spinal pain

Non surgical management of spinal pain

Before understanding spinal pain, it is significant to have a thorough comprehension of spinal anatomy.

Spinal anatomy and back pain

Spinal anatomy comprises bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. Though strong, it is sensitive and flexible, thus providing mobility. Humans misuse these advantages and take them for granted by ruthlessly overloading tasks on them.

Pain either concentrates on the neck or back or extends to supplementary elements such as nerves, muscles and ligaments. The anatomy based pain could be listed as follows.

The elaborate nerve roots that extend to the legs and arms could suffer irritation or feel pinched. The smaller nerves around the spine could suffer due to the inflammation or degeneration that occurs in the spine.

The back muscles, bones, ligaments or joints could bear the brunt of excessive tasks and injuries. The disc spaces in vertebrae and joint complexes in spine may suffer pain due to degeneration.

Faucet joints are a prominent part of the spine which requires discussion while talking about spinal pain. The cartilage or slippery connective tissue allows vertebrae to slide against one another. These joints which twist and turn are susceptible to arthritis and could cause neck pain or back pain.


When the lumbar spine experiences strain or sprain, the soft tissues become inflamed which results in muscle spasms and pain. The lumbar or lower back region and cervical or neck region are the worst hit owing to their weight bearing function and movements like twists and bends.

An injury or excessive work load could ruthlessly stretch the bands of tissues or ligaments causing muscle spasms. Extensors (back muscles), flexors (abdominal muscles) and Oblique or rotators (side muscles) are the three types of muscles around the spine.

Poor posture, pressure on spinal nerves (perhaps due to herniated disc) or a fracture in one of the vertebrae could cause upper and middle back pain. Weakness, numbness, loss of bladder control and difficulty to walk are symptoms of back pain.

Non surgical remedies

Non surgical management of spinal pain include muscle relaxants, narcotic pain medications, back braces, epidural steroid injections, manual manipulation, acupuncture, massage therapy and mindful meditation.

Besides these, activity modification, exercises, relaxation techniques inclusive of breathing and interventional techniques like spinal injections and epidural injections also provide solutions for spinal pain.

For such pain, home remedies include anti-inflammatory drink (like turmeric milk, ginger green tea), sound sleep, avoiding prolonged static posture, yoga, self activating heat patch and supporting body in pool.

Four regions of spine, specific causes and remedies

Four regions of spine include cervical spine or neck, thoracic spine or upper back, lumbar spine or lower back and sacral region or bottom of spine. Of these cervical and lumbar regions are prone to damage easier than others.

Cervical spine

The cervical spine pain or neck pain may occur due to tear of muscle tissue or poor posture or prolonged periods of strain.

Besides medicines and injections, patients could sport a soft cervical collar or traction or undergo physical therapy to answer this problem.

Thoracic spine

Thoracic spine pain occurs due to trauma or sudden injury (like car accidents or sports injury) or poor posture accumulated over a period of time, sitting for prolonged time before the computer, lack of muscular strength (owing to couch potato habits) and repeating a movement for the sake of sports or profession. This pain originates from muscle irritation and other soft tissue problems.

Slipped discs, fractures in vertebrae, osteoporosis, spinal infection, shingles (painful rash due to infection of nerves), inflammation in joints and spinal tumour cause thoracic pain.

Muscle relaxants, back braces, epidural steroid injections, manual manipulation (physical therapy with the use of devices, machines or modalities), acupuncture, massage therapy and mindful meditaion.

Lumbar spine

Lumbar back pain occurs due to heavy lifting or vigorous exercises, poor posture while sitting at work or drving car. Injuries could damage intervertebral discs, compression of nerve roots and cause improper movements of spinal joints.

The non surgical treatment for lumbar spine is as for thoracic spine.

Sacral spine

Sacral spine occurs in low back and buttocks due to injury in the joint between spine and hip. It could also be an ancillary damage due to herniated disc. Such condition calls for accurate diagnosis.

Sacral spine pain expands while standing on one leg, stair climbing, running and potentially due to arthritis, pregnancy, post-partum, systematic inflation and infection.

Tailbone pain may occur due to broken or dislocated coccyx, difficult child birth, infections, abscess or tumour.

Non surgical treatments for sacral spine include physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, stretching exercises, oral anti-inflammatory medicines, topical patches, creams, salves and mechanical bracing.

The patient can use over the counter pain relievers and muscle relaxants in initial stages and go for prescribed medicines if initial treatment fails.

Low impact aerobics which do not hurt lower back and pelvis, like exercise walking under supervision is advisable.

Natural spine care

One could cure the spine naturally by practicing exercise as a lifestyle, engage mind, being aware of sitting posture, walking with the motive of accentuating spine health, heat therapy, create harmony between pillow position, eating food that promotes spinal health and adopting pool exercises.

When to opt for spine surgery?

Non surgical management of spine is obsolete when pain or numbness is extended to arms and legs or compresses spinal nerves.

Surgery is inevitable when the slipped disk hasn’t corrected itself, bone growth is located in spine, degenerative spinal problems occur, broken or dislocated bone, spinal infection or spinal cord tumour occurs.

If the patient has difficulty to pass urine owing to nerve compression in the back or develops progressive weakness in the legs, especially ankles (due to compression) or does not respond to non surgical treatment, surgery is inevitable.


Patients must diagnose their spine and pain as prescribed by specialists and act according to their suggestions. Cause of the pain should imply the nature of damage and spine specialist in the particular spine area should be approached for comprehensive treatment.