Back pain plagues no small number of people. We as a society have spent quite a bit of money and research trying to find an answer to the problem. There are life style changes and there are medical procedures. Which is better? Of course it depends on the severity of pain and your financial situation, but I would like to point out that back surgery is successful only 50 per cent of the time. That's pretty low odds for such a major and invasive surgery. Recent studies show that the same per cent of people who did not have surgery had a recovery within two years. I have a friend who had back surgery and has maintained a pain free life for over ten years since then. I would call her surgery a success. Her husband had the same surgery and it did nothing for him.

A slightly less invasive surgery is having an electrical impulse implant. The patient controls the impulses after the surgery, which send a current to alleviate pain. I have a friend who prior to surgery could go no further than a 40 mile car trip who is now living pain free. I have another friend whose pain decreased but did not disappear with the implant. I asked my former husband to look into it, so that he could get off of the pain medication he was addicted to, but he refused to consider it. If getting loaded is what the patient prefers, the electrical implant is not a good option.

Less invasive than surgery at all, is doing what my former husband did: take a bevy of pain killers. Pain killers, even the mild ones such as ibuprofen get less effective with time. So if this is your option be prepared for a wild ride. Once addicted to Vicodin or Percoset, your driving ability will be compromised. In the state of California, there is no safe legal limit for driving under the influence of prescription meds. It is not like alcohol, where some nominal amount is permitted. You legally can't drive under the influence of pain meds. It's not safe anyway, he crashed three times badly endangering himself and others. He crashed less profoundly on many other occasions causing astronomical costs to our monthly insurance bill.

Some people find relief from chiropractic adjustments. I find it comforting that this has no lasting effects like drugs. If you receive relief, it is less invasive than surgery. The doctors who practice this art are trained and certified. I think if the chiropractic doctor takes X-rays, it might be safe. I think if the doctor doesn't, it might be dangerous. If I my pain were caused by a hairline fracture, being twisted and popped might cause additional damage. My former husband went to one chiropractor who was very subtle. This woman actually did nothing for him she was so subtle. He went back several times, hoping each time she would get more radical but she never did. She did upsell him on some supplements which didn't really do anything either.

I have received some relief from a "moist heating pad." This is an electrical heating pad, interestingly, no water bottle attachment. It is called "moist" because the high heat causes your body to sweat. The heat is so much higher than a regular mattress pad or electric blanket that there is no continuous "on" button, just a toggle. They come in various sizes, 14 x 27 is large enough to cover the whole back of a regular size person. The heat is very soothing. You can lie on top of it, against it, or drape it over your back. This is available without a prescription, on line from a number of sites or at a pharmacy / drug store.

I had a heating "wand" I can apply to my sore back. It has a massaging element. It can be very soothing, and uses infra red rays. The problem is, I am often too stiff to maneuver it correctly. My mattress pad provides about the same level of heat, and all I have to do is lie on top of it. I have a friend who swears just running hot water from the shower over his back alleviates his sciatica. If this is true for you, I'd say you are pretty darn lucky, because my level of pain was never alleviated so easily.

There are other things you can do which are life style changes such as: stay away from long car trips. If you must be in a car chose a large comfortable one which is high enough off of the ground to enable easy access. You can increase core muscle strength through tradition abdomen exercises, yoga or pilates. I don't think it matter much one being better than the other as long as you strengthen the muscles. So pick the one you like, that fits into your schedule, the one with the likable teacher, affordable price, good music, whatever, as long as you strengthen the abs. Lastly, lose weight. For men especially, tummy weight pulls forward and stresses the back. The proverbial "beer belly" is the most unhealthy profile to have, it can be indicative of heart trouble to happen in addition to back issues.

Being trim will put less stress on your back and your knees. It will make it easier to find clothes that fit. It may even elevate your mood if you feel better about yourself. Being overweight strains the kidneys as well as the back. Doctors can prescribe all kinds of medicine to deal with the issues you have from being overweight, but they rarely address the root problem: obesity, because they are doctors not nutritionists. Getting a dog is often the best advice you can give someone trying to lose weight. A dog requires walks, and consistent walking is low impact aerobic exercise. A dog needs a walk no matter what the weather, and a dog will not make comments about how you look. If anything a dog is constantly reassuring and loving in your quest to alleviate back pain!