8 Ways to Treat Back Pain Without Surgery

Back pain is a real pain in the…well, back!

It can strike at any time, leaving you feeling uncomfortable, frustrated, and unable to do the things you love.

While surgery is sometimes necessary to treat back pain, there are many effective pain relief alternatives that can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to treat back pain without going under the knife.


Pain Relief Alternatives

Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a common condition that can happen to anyone, regardless of all age and lifestyle. Chronic back pain is typically defined as pain that lasts more than three months and is caused by various factors.

Some of the most common causes of chronic back pain include: [1]

  • Degenerative Disc Disease: This condition occurs when the discs between the vertebrae of the spine wear down over time, causing pain and stiffness.
  • Herniated Disc: A herniated disc occurs when the soft, jelly-like material inside a disc bulges or ruptures, putting pressure on the nerves in the spine and causing pain.
  • Spinal Stenosis: This condition occurs when the spaces within the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the nerves and causing pain, weakness, and numbness.
  • Osteoarthritis: This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down over time, causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This occurs when one vertebra slips out of place, putting pressure on the nerves and causing pain and weakness.
  • Muscle or Ligament Strain: This can occur from overuse or sudden movement and can cause pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.
  • Fibromyalgia: This condition is characterized by widespread pain, tenderness in the muscles and soft tissues, fatigue, and other symptoms.
  • Poor Posture: Poor posture can strain the muscles and ligaments of the back, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Trauma or Injury: This can include fractures, sprains, and other injuries to the spine, which can cause pain and limit mobility.

If you are dealing with chronic back pain, it’s essential to identify the underlying cause so that an effective pain management plan can be developed specifically for you.


Pain Relief Alternatives

8 Effect Pain Relief Alternatives to Spine Surgery

Spine surgery can be an effective treatment for some types of back pain, but it’s not always the best option. In fact, many people with chronic back pain can find relief without resorting to surgery. Fortunately, various pain relief alternatives to spinal surgery can help alleviate pain and improve mobility.

Here are 8 non-surgical pain relief alternatives for chronic back pain.


1. Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections

Lumbar epidural steroid injections (LESIs) are used to manage pain in the lower back.[2] These injections are given into the epidural space, the area between the outer membrane of the spinal cord and the vertebral bones.

The injection typically contains a combination of steroid medication, such as cortisone, and a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine. The steroid reduces inflammation in the affected area, which can help alleviate pain, while the local anesthetic provides immediate pain relief.

LESIs treat various conditions that cause back pain, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica, and are considered a minimally invasive procedure.


2. Facet Joint Injections

Facet joints are small joints located between the vertebrae of the spine that allow for movement and provide stability to the spine.[3] When these joints become inflamed or damaged, it can cause pain and discomfort.

Facet joint injections are used to manage neck or lower back pain caused by facet joint problems and involve injecting a local anesthetic and a steroid directly into the affected joint. The injection helps to reduce inflammation and provides temporary pain relief.[4]

Facet joint injections are a minimally invasive procedure that is typically used to treat conditions such as spinal arthritis, facet joint syndrome, and other degenerative conditions of the spine.


3. Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is used to manage chronic pain in the back, legs, or arms. SCS involves implanting a small device under the skin near the spine that sends electrical signals to the nerves in the affected area.[5] Therefore, the electrical signals interfere with the pain signals that the nerves are sending to the brain, which can help reduce the perception of pain.

Spinal cord stimulation is typically used to treat chronic pain conditions that have not responded well to other treatments, such as failed back surgery syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy.


4. Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is used to manage chronic pain in the neck or back. It involves using heat generated by high-frequency electrical currents to destroy tiny nerve fibers that transmit pain signals from the affected area to the brain.[6]

RFA is typically done under local anesthesia and involves inserting a small needle into the affected nerve and using an electrode to apply heat to the nerve. The heat destroys the nerve fibers, which can provide long-term pain relief for chronic pain conditions such as facet joint pain, sacroiliac joint pain, and neuropathic pain.


5. Physical Therapy

It is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatment option for managing back pain that involves a series of exercises and stretches designed to improve mobility, flexibility, and strength of the muscles and joints in the affected area.[7]

Physical therapy can effectively manage back pain caused by various conditions, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis.


6. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves manipulating soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, using various techniques and pressure levels.[8]

This therapy can effectively manage back pain caused by various conditions, including muscle strain, sprains, and tension.


7. Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to help stimulate the body’s natural healing process and reduce pain.[9] It can effectively manage back pain caused by various conditions, including muscle strain, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis.


8. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care involves the manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body to improve alignment and joint function, reduce pain, and promote overall healing and function.[10] Furthermore, it can effectively manage back pain caused by various conditions, including muscle strain, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis.

Even though there are various treatment options, some are more invasive than others and should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. And keep in mind that not all back pain management options will be appropriate for everyone. That’s why working with your provider is essential to ensure you receive the most effective pain relief treatment based on your needs.


Pain Relief Alternatives

When to Consider Surgery for Back Pain

Back surgery is a serious and often invasive treatment option that should only be considered after exploring other non-surgical options. In general, you may want to consider surgery for your back pain when:

  • Your back pain is affecting your quality of life
  • Non-surgical treatments have not been effective
  • You have a specific condition that can be treated surgically
  • You have significant neurological symptoms
  • You’ve experienced a traumatic injury

Ultimately, the decision to undergo spinal surgery should be made with your provider so that you understand the potential risks and benefits of the procedure. I generally consider surgery a last resort, and I only recommend it when the potential benefits outweigh the risks.


Couple walking free from back pain

Find Relief from Your Back Pain with Sonoran Pain and Spine

Suffering from severe or chronic pain can take a toll on your quality of life and daily activities. Not to mention the stress and risk of further injury.

Thankfully, there are numerous effective pain relief alternatives to spine surgery!

At Sonoran Pain and Spine, we focus on identifying the root cause of your pain and providing you with an individualized, non-surgical pain management solution that will help you get back to enjoying your everyday life.

Contact us today and get the help you need!



[1] “Common Causes of Back Pain – Types & Treatment | NIAMS.” 1 Feb. 2023, https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[2] “Epidural Steroid Injections for Low Back Pain: A Narrative Review.” 26 Dec. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8744824/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[3] “Facet Joint Injection – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 5 Feb. 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK572125/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[4] “Facet joint injections for management of low back pain – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7713865/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[5] “Spinal Cord Stimulation: Clinical Efficacy and Potential Mechanisms.” 23 Apr. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6391880/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[6] “Radiofrequency ablation for chronic low back pain – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4197759/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[7] “Physical Therapy Approaches in the Treatment of Low Back Pain.” 18 Sep. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251828/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[8] “Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low ….” 9 Sep. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5017818/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[9] “Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364128/. Accessed 1 May. 2023.

[10] “Effect of Usual Medical Care Plus Chiropractic Care … – JAMA Network.” 18 May. 2018, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2680417. Accessed 1 May. 2023.