Pain Killers/ Analgesia
Painkillers or analgesics are drugs that work by interfering with the pain transmission process. Although the stronger analgesics are only available by prescription from your doctor, many of the painkillers that you can be obtained over-the-counter from your pharmacist can be effective if taken properly.
Remember to always ask your pharmacist for advice and never exceed the stated dose.
Surgery is only appropriate for a very small proportion of patients with back pain. Rarely, back pain may worsen to the extent that other functions or organs of the body (e.g. the bladder or the bowel) are affected. In the most severe cases, some patients may become paralyzed. Your doctor will use surgery as a last resort when all other attempts at relieving your pain have failed.
If you have been referred for back surgery, you should carefully consider your options before consenting. As well as requiring many weeks of convalescence, success is never guaranteed and even after surgery, the pain may not go away completely. It is important that you discuss the surgery and all the possible outcomes with your surgeon.
Useful questions to ask your back pain specialist include:
- What kind of operation are you proposing?
- What are the chances of good pain relief if I opt to have the surgery?
- What will happen if I decide not to have the surgery?
- What are my other options besides surgery?
- What are the possible risks associated with this kind of surgery?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- Will i have to undergo physiotherapy after the operation?
- How long will I have to stay off work?
- How long after the surgery will my life return to normal?
There are the two general types of back surgery:
- Discectomy: Involves the removal of part of a vertebral disc to reduce pressure on a nerve root.
- Stabilization/fusion: Involves fixing together two or more adjacent vertebrae with bone taken from elsewhere in the body.