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Back Pain

Back Pain

Pain issues with the spine, such as in the lower, middle, or upper back and neck, are common and can interfere with your daily activities.

Injury to the back, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, obesity, and muscle strain can all cause pain. The upper back (neck or cervical spine), middle back (thoracic spine), or lower back (lumbar or sacral spine areas) can be affected, and pain can range from mild to severe.

Are you Suffering from Back Pain?

Causes of Back Pain

What causes back pain, and how can you find back pain relief? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), sedentary lifestyle is one of the top causes of pain originating in the back. As a first step, your doctor can help you find exercises that will speed your recovery and strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.

Causes of spine issues are varied, and can cause sensations that range from a tingling or a dull ache to a sudden or sharp pain that prohibits your normal activity. Often, the only symptom of a spinal issue is pain in the back. This pain can be caused by something as simple as muscle strain or other muscle problems, but there is a wide range of possible causes, such as:

  • Ligament strain
  • Herniated or ruptured discs
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Skeletal structure problems such as bone fracture or bone spurs
  • Osteoporosis

Other causes of spine pain can include poor posture, lifting heavy items improperly, and lack of exercise. Rarely, spine pain can be the result of more serious illnesses.

Back Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of pain from spinal issues may vary depending on the cause, and could improve within the first 72 hours of conservative treatment. Often back pain goes away on its own within a few weeks. Acute back pain is defined as lasting up to three months, and chronic pain lasts longer than three months.

Acute or chronic back pain may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting, stabbing or dull pain
  • Pain that radiates toward the neck or down the legs
  • Decreased range of motion and flexibility
  • Pain that reduces with rest or minimal movement

To diagnose the source of your back pain, your doctor will ask you questions about your health and history and do a physical examination. Other tests that can help diagnose the source of your pain include X-rays, MRI scan, CT scan and blood tests. It is important that your issue is properly diagnosed so that you can receive the most effective and appropriate back pain treatment.

How to Treat Back Pain

Our treatment will depend on the underlying cause and severity of your pain. Treatment options such as ice, rest, and pain medications may give you short-term relief of symptoms. In most cases, non-surgical options are most appropriate. Experts at NINDS assert that the most effective treatment is exercise, which has no cost and is non-habit forming.

Chronic pain may require additional therapy, such as physical therapy. Physical therapy is one of the most common conservative treatment options and has the most clinical evidence of success. Studies show that physical therapy results in reduction in pain scores, particularly in the short term. Chronic pain is a more difficult challenge, but starting physical therapy early can help prevent later episodes

When Further Back Pain Treatment is Required

Any further treatments required are based on the underlying problem. If there is something that can be addressed by an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon, we will refer you to a specialist.

Implantation of a pain pump can be effective to reduce pain without extensive surgery. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct the underlying spinal issue to relieve pain.

Some additional interventions can be performed at Dr. Sarojini as well. For example, we sometimes see patients with low back pain who have already had a discectomy, laminectomy, or fusion. If a patient does not respond to minimally invasive treatments, we consider aggressive interventions such as spinal cord stimulation. There are other treatment options performed by pain physicians, including micro-discectomies and ligamentum flavum decompression for spinal stenosis.

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