By Amanda Price, MD, Freeman Health System

Many ailments can be avoided by getting enough rest, eating right, staying active and living an overall healthy life. However, there’s one problem that will affect most of us at some point in our lives – back pain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain is the single leading cause of work-related disability worldwide, and roughly 80 percent of all adults experience either acute or chronic back pain over the course of their lives.1

Back pain can be categorized into three areas: lower-, mid- and upper-back pain, with lower-back pain being the most common of the three. A number of factors can lead to back pain, including age, fitness level, pregnancy, weight gain, genetics, occupational risks, strains and skeletal irregularities. While some of these, such as pregnancy and fitness levels, are controllable, others, such as genetics, are not.

Treatments available include surgical and non-surgical options. While surgical means of treatment are reliable and effective, they have their downsides. Recovery from a laminectomy, a surgical operation to remove one or more vertebrae to help relieve pressure, can force you to miss three to four months while a spinal fusion will sideline you for up to six months, depending on your age and medical history. Non-surgical methods of treatment include exercise, physical therapy, occupational therapy, heat and cold packs, over-the-counter pain medications, electrotherapy, massage therapy and injections. Non-surgical options not only keep you from losing time for the surgery itself, they also help keep you from missing work, vacations and spending time with your family and friends.

Many people decide not to take steps to treat their back pain for fear of missing out on their day-to-day activities they enjoy. Ignoring the signs can compound the problems and worsen the injury. Back pain can also make you irritable toward your loved ones.

Back pain is a serious issue that requires attention, yet many people decide to live with the pain due to the hassle of the treatment rather than seek out the proper help in fixing their back problems. If the idea of invasive back surgery scares you, consider non-surgical alternatives to remedy your back problems. The route to pain relief is easier to handle than you might think.

About the author

Amanda Price, MD, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Freeman NeuroSpine. Dr. Price received her Doctor of Medicine degree from Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, and completed her residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas. To learn more about back pain treatment, visit or call 417.347.7200 to make an appointment.

1. (2017, May 10). Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. Retrieved from