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Patient Education on Non-Surgical Spine Treatments

ISASS has partnered with Spine-health to develop a patient resources section on our web site that will provide spine patients with up-to-date and relevant information on conditions and treatment of the spine.

Utilize the following resources to learn more about non-surgical spine treatments, including pain medications, heat and cold therapy, exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic and injections.

Non-Surgical Spine Treatment Resources

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications are one of the most common non-surgical treatments for temporary relief of spinal conditions that cause both acute and chronic back pain and/or neck pain. Pain medications may include acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen and celebrex), oral steroids, muscle relaxants, narcotic drugs and anti-depressants.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Heat and cold is commonly used separately or in combination as part of professional or at-home, non-surgical treatments of back pain, neck pain and other symptoms related to the spine. Cold therapy works to slow inflammation and swelling, numb sore tissues, slow nerve impulses in injured areas, and decrease tissue damage.  Heat therapy works to stretch the soft tissues; increase the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the muscles; stimulate the skin’s sensory receptors; decrease transmission of pain signals; and accelerate the body’s natural healing processes.


Exercise, as opposed to resting, is most often a more necessary and effective non-surgical treatment for rehabilitating the spine and reducing related back pain and neck pain. While stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobics exercises are often a part of exercise programs for sciatica, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and other spine conditions, it is generally advised to check with your doctor first, and an exercise professional trained in your specific spine disorder.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a non-surgical treatment option for spine conditions that have impaired or immobilized movement and flexibility, and involves guidance from a physical therapist who teaches patients how to use their own muscles to improve flexibility, range of motion, muscular strength and endurance. Physical therapy can include the use of modalities like hot packs, TENS units and ultrasound (described as passive physical therapy), incorporate different stretching, strengthening and aerobic conditioning exercises (active physical therapy), or utilize the practitioner’s hands to put pressure on and manipulate the joints and muscles (manual physical therapy).


Injections are a more aggressive form of conservative treatment that can be used to help relieve pain by allowing the patient to more fully participate in a rehabilitative program. They may also serve as a diagnostic tool that identifies the source of the pain or a pain relief provider that directly delivers medications to those areas of the spine responsible for the patient’s symptoms. Epidural steroid injections, medial branch nerve blocks, radiofrequency neurotomy and prolotherapy are just some examples of injections that may be used in the non-surgical treatment of back pain and neck pain.

In this ISASS Guide for Patients:

Content provided by: Spine-health | Trusted Information for Back Pain and Neck Pain Relief
 © 1999-2010 Spine-health
The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for medical advice in any way.  A licensed medical professional should be consulted for any and all medical conditions and symptoms.


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