Chronic Pain

A number of spinal diseases or injuries can trigger chronic back and leg pain. You may have chronic pain if your pain has lasted more than 6 months.


Mildly uncomfortable to completely disabling pain. You may feel a sharp or knife-like pain, a burning sensation, or a dull muscular ache. Affected areas may feel tender or sore to the touch and the pain may increase with movement.

About this Condition

Chronic back pain is usually felt in the lower back, but can also extend into your legs or feet. A number of spinal diseases or injuries can trigger chronic back and leg pain. You may have chronic pain if your pain has lasted more than 6 months.

Chronic back and leg pain can result from a number of spinal conditions, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Failed back syndrome
  • Epidural fibrosis
  • Arachnoiditis


[Source: Medtronic]

This content is for your general education only. See your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to discuss an appropriate treatment plan.

Conservative Treatments

Medication and Pain Management

The goal when prescribing medications should be maximum reduction of pain and discomfort with minimal risk of overuse of the medications and avoiding side effects.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) include common over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen among others. These drugs are potent long-term pain reducers that work without concerns of dependence.

Opioid therapy to control chronic back pain is less ideal because of potential toxicity to the body and physical and psychological dependence. Treatment by this class of drugs should generally be a short term option when patients do not respond to alternatives.

Pain can often be reduced through the use of muscle relaxants, anti-seizure pain medications such as Neurontin, Topamax, and Lyrica, anti-depressants, and oral steroids.

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Physical Therapy / Occupational Therapy

Physical and occupational therapy can play a vital role in your recovery. Once acute pain improves, your doctor or a therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help prevent recurrent injuries.

These programs often include heat, cold and electrotherapy to help alleviate pain, decrease swelling, increase strength and promote healing. Methods include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, functional training and use of assistive devices and adaptive equipment to increase strength, range of motion, endurance, wound healing and functional independence.

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Spinal Cord Stimulator

Spinal cord stimulation (neurostimulation) is a procedure in which an electrical current is used to alleviate chronic back or leg pain. It involves the implantation of a small pulse generator that transmits electrical impulses to the spinal cord, which in turn blocks the nerve signals to the brain responsible for the pain.

Neurostimulation delivers low-voltage electrical stimulation to the spinal cord or targeted peripheral nerve to block the sensation of pain.

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[Source: Medtronic]

Morphine Intrathecal Pump

In cases of severe cancer pain, an intrathecal morphine pump may be implanted.  This is a precise, targeted treatment.   The pump and catheter are surgically placed beneath the skin.  The pump dispenses morphine according to a prescribed dosage.  

Possible surgical complications include infection, meningitis, spinal fluid leak, paralysis, headache, swelling, bleeding, and bruising.

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[Source: Medtronic]

Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.