Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

If you’re suffering from lower back pain, you may be relieved to know that there are non-surgical treatment options available. These treatments aim to reduce pain and improve mobility, without the need for invasive procedures. Medical treatments such as muscle relaxants and narcotic pain medication can provide temporary relief, while back braces and epidural steroid injections can support the healing process. Additionally, alternative treatments like manual manipulation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and mindful meditation have been found to alleviate low back pain in some individuals. With a range of options to choose from, you can find a non-surgical treatment that works best for you and helps you get back to living a pain-free life.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants are medications that act as depressants of the central nervous system, increasing the mobility of tense muscles and relieving pain from muscle tightness or spasms. They are typically prescribed for short-term use to manage acute muscle pain. However, it’s important to note that muscle relaxants have no role in the management of chronic pain.

While muscle relaxants can provide temporary relief from pain, they do not address the underlying source of the pain. Therefore, they are usually prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation.

Narcotic pain medications

Narcotic pain medications, also known as opioids or painkillers, may be used for managing intense, short-term pain, such as pain after surgical procedures. These medications work by altering the perception of pain by weakening signals sent to the brain.

It’s important to use narcotic pain medications responsibly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as they can have many side effects and the potential for addiction. Due to the risk of addiction and the side effects associated with long-term use, opioids are rarely prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain.

Back braces

back braces can provide support, stability, pain relief, and aid in the healing process for individuals with lower back pain. Some patients find that a back brace can be used to provide comfort and possibly reduce pain.

There is evidence to suggest that the use of an inelastic corset-style brace, worn daily in combination with a physical therapy exercise program, can speed up the healing process and reduce pain. A clinical trial comparing extensible and inextensible lumbosacral orthoses found that patients who used back braces experienced significant improvements in pain relief compared to those who received standard care alone.

Back braces may also be recommended after back surgery to provide additional support during the healing process.

Epidural steroid injections

Epidural steroid injections are a non-surgical treatment option for lower back pain that aim to temporarily relieve pain by reducing inflammation surrounding a compressed nerve root. This procedure involves the administration of a steroid directly into the epidural space, the outer part of the dural sac that surrounds the spinal cord. A live x-ray, called fluoroscopy, is used to guide the needle to the correct area.

The goal of an epidural steroid injection is to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief, allowing for progress in other forms of treatment such as physical therapy. This treatment is often used in combination with other methods to address the underlying cause of the pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Manual manipulation

Manual manipulation, commonly performed by chiropractors or other healthcare providers, aims to improve mobility and reduce stiffness in the lower back. This treatment involves physical adjustments to the spine with the goal of reducing discomfort, stiffness, and pain.

During a manual manipulation session, hand thrusts of varying speed and force are applied to adjust the spinal structures. Research has shown that manual manipulation can provide relief for some individuals with low back pain. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before undergoing manual manipulation to ensure its appropriateness for your specific condition.


acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that involves stimulating specific points on the body to correct imbalances and promote healing. It is believed that acupuncture can decrease pain and discomfort by balancing the body’s “qi,” or life force.

During an acupuncture session, thin needles are inserted into the skin at various points for about an hour. Acupuncture has been shown to provide significant pain relief for some individuals with back pain. It is important to seek acupuncture from a qualified practitioner who is trained and licensed to perform this treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Massage therapy

Massage therapy can help loosen tight muscles and alleviate low back pain. Applied to the low back, massage therapy can relieve muscle spasms that commonly contribute to lower back pain. It also increases blood flow to the low back, which speeds up healing by bringing nutrients and oxygen to damaged muscles.

Massage therapists use various techniques to apply pressure to the muscles and soft tissues of the back, helping to reduce tension and promote relaxation. Regular sessions of massage therapy can be beneficial for managing chronic lower back pain.


Meditation can be a helpful tool in reducing the perception of pain and alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany chronic pain. This practice involves focusing the mind and achieving a state of mental relaxation and clarity.

Meditation techniques for pain reduction can vary from deep breathing exercises to an altered focus approach. By redirecting your attention away from the experience of pain and calming the mind, meditation can provide relief and improve overall well-being for individuals with lower back pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Other treatment options

In addition to the non-surgical treatments mentioned above, there are many more options available for managing lower back pain. These include newer and less invasive surgical options, as well as complementary or alternative therapies.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or specialist to discuss the most appropriate treatment options for your specific condition. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your medical history, severity of pain, and individual needs.


  1. Morrisette D, Cholewicki J, Logan S, Seif G, McGowan S. A randomized clinical trial comparing extensible and inextensible lumbosacral orthoses and standard care alone in the management of low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014 October 1; 39(21):1733-42.

  2. Furlan A, Tazdi F, Tsertsvadze A, et al. Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Back Pain II. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 194. AHRQ Publication No. 10(11) E007. Rockville, MD; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. October 2010. Accessed July 13, 2016.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

Judd Beale

My goal is to help others gain greater understanding about the causes & treatments of back pain & to find relief improving overall quality of life.