There are myriad ways to treat lower back pain, all of which depend on the origin of the pain, the underlying condition causing the pain and whether the pain is acute and short-term or chronic and long-term.

In many cases, pain in the lower back can be treated with simple remedies such as pain- and inflammation-management medication that don’t require a physician’s prescription. These medications can often be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as the application of heat or cold (which stimulates blood flow and promote the alleviation of pain); correcting poor posture; and specific exercises and physical therapies that build up the muscles of the back and help maintain flexibility and mobility while natural healing occurs.

Unfortunately, not all conditions causing pain in the lower back can be treated conservatively. Occasionally, a patient experiencing chronic pain will require some sort of surgical procedure to find both short-term and long-term relief from their symptoms.

One such surgical procedure involves the injection of an anesthetic directly into the nerve roots that are being somehow impacted and damaged and are, as a result, causing the patient pain. The damage may be from a simple inflammation of unknown origin or as the result of an injury or trauma to the back.

When the facet joint of a vertebra—the parts of your spine that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist—are inflamed and causing pain, one commonly performed procedure involves the injection of a medication—typically a steroid—into the joint for long-term relief of symptoms.

Lastly, a more involved surgical procedure may require either the removal or reshaping of a vertebral disc that is out of place or deformed, compressing nerve roots and causing pain. Known as intervertebral disc surgery (or disc replacement or spinal fusion), a physician may replace a severely damaged disc with an artificial one or with a metal rod. These types of procedures can provide long-term if not permanent relief from painful symptoms. However, they usually require hospital stays, sometime significant recovery times and a longer delay in the resuming of daily activities.