Dr. Choi Explains Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Chronic Back Pain

Dr. Choi treats patients with chronic back pain, and she explains the range of nonsurgical therapies available to relieve pain.

chronic back pain

As a nonsurgical back specialist trained in interventional spine management, Dr. Catherine Choi treats many patients with chronic back pain. “In an ideal world, I would love to give my patients complete relief from pain,” says Dr. Choi. “Unfortunately, there’s currently no universally effective treatment for chronic back pain. However, most chronic back pain patients can live comfortable lives without undergoing surgery. We have a number of noninvasive treatments to offer that provide pain relief.”

Multiple conservative therapies and treatments for chronic back pain

Chronic back pain can be addressed with a range of nonsurgical options. “I was trained to treat the painful conditions caused by herniated discs and arthritis of the joints,” she explains. “There are a number of nonsurgical treatment options. They include therapy, injections, spinal chord stimulation, and lifestyle modification.

Physical therapy provides noninvasive relief

“My background training was in physical medicine and rehabilitation. I rely heavily on physical therapy,” says Dr. Choi. “For some patients with chronic back pain, therapy sessions deliver the relief they need. I work very closely with the physical therapists taking care of my patients. We stay in constant communication about patient progress. Knowing how my patient is doing enables me to evaluate whether therapy is the right path for a patient’s pain management. How much progress has the patient made? If therapy has caused a significant improvement in pain, we’ll probably want to continue therapeutic treatment. However, if the patient remains debilitated or unable to work, it may be time to consider another treatment option.”

Injection treatments can keep chronic back pain at bay

When physical therapy does not improve pain, spine injections are another option to consider. “Spine injections can be carefully targeted in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine,” Dr. Choi explains. “The response to injections varies with each patient, but injections often provide several months of relief.”

Lifestyle modifications can have a positive effect on chronic back pain

“Many chronic back pain patients experience benefits by focusing on healthier lifestyle habits,” observes Dr. Choi. “Something as simple as good posture can provide relief. Avoiding nicotine and excess alcohol helps. So does incorporating gentle movement into your daily routine. I also encourage my patients to cultivate a support network. Constant pain takes a toll and can make you feel that hope is diminishing. You need people in your life to encourage you and help you shift your attitude.”

“If people are experiencing chronic back pain, I am going to do my best to develop a tailored treatment plan that is effective for them,” says Dr. Choi. “Even when I cannot totally eliminate pain, I want my patients to know that I am working with them to support them and make their journey more comfortable.”

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  • Catherine Y. Choi, M.D.

    “My philosophy in treating my patient is to provide personalized spine education,  review comprehensive treatment options and work together in determining the best path for you. “

    More about this expert

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