FAQ’s on Acute and Chronic Back Pain
What is Back Pain – Acute or Chronic?
31 million Americans are experiencing back pain at any given time, and back pain is only second to upper-respiratory ailments as the most common reason for missed work. Back pain includes any pain a patient is experiencing in the lumbar region, but may also include secondary symptoms that occur in the nerves or muscles due to a complication in the spine. With numerous causes, back pain is one of the most frequently treated disorders by our clinic.
What are the causes of Back Pain?
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Arthritic damage
- Spinal Stenosis
- Facet Joint Complications
- Herniated Disc
- Bulging Disc
What are the symptoms of Back Pain?
One half of all workers admit to having episodes of back pain each year. The primary symptom will be pain localized to the lumbar area, with secondary symptoms occurring based on the pain origin. Common secondary symptoms may include:
- Stiffness in the back
- Muscular weakness (if an afflicted nerve is the cause)
- Pain spreading to other areas of the body
How is Back Pain diagnosed?
Diagnosis is performed based on problematic symptoms are presented to the physician. Imaging techniques are used most commonly, with a mixture of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs taken to examine the back. Patients with pain due to a disc may have a discogram performed as diagnosis. Diagnostic injections may be used if the facet joints are the likely source.
What are the treatment options for Back Pain?
The treatment options available will be based on symptomatic pain. The severity and location of symptoms will dictate the required level of treatment, with some sources of pain needing only conservative treatment and others needing surgical correction to prevent them from becoming a chronic issue.
Patients who are experiencing muscular weakness or feelings of numbness in either the arms or legs are strongly encouraged to contact our clinic immediately as these symptoms can be indicative of one or more afflicted nerves.
Medication: Patients with mild symptoms can likely obtain relief with simple over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Patient who are having more severe symptoms might receive a prescription for stronger medication from our physician, which can include opiates and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Physical Therapy : Mild to moderate symptoms may also be treated with physical therapy, with goals of restoring functionality to the spine. Exercise during physical therapy can also increase the strength of muscles supporting the size, which can improve some cases of arthritic damage (Predictors of response to exercise therapy for chronic low back pain, 2014). The application of heat during therapy may also provide a therapeutic effect to certain causes of back pain.
Patients who have symptoms that do not improve with conservative treatment, or who have symptoms caused by more severe sources, may require surgical treatment.
Facet Joint Injections : Patients with back pain due to one or more afflicted facet joints can obtain relief with a facet joint injection. The injection seeks to offer relief by numbing the painful joints and reducing the inflammation that is the source of pain in many cases. Patients who respond well to facet joint injections may be eligible for radiofrequency denervation, which functions to carefully destroy the pain-causing nerve (Comparison of effectiveness of facet joint injection and radiofrequency denervation in chronic low back pain, 2012).
Epidural Steroid Injection : Patients with pain due to spinal stenosis can likely obtain relief with an epidural steroid injection, which seeks to reduce the inflammation causing stenosis (Correlation Between Severity of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection, 2014). Epidural injections also provide a therapeutic effect for pain caused by disc herniation, which is among the most common causes of pain in our patients (A randomized, double-blind, active-control trial of the effectiveness of lumbar interlaminar epidural injections in disc herniation).
Spinal Fusion : Patients with chronic pain resulting from degenerative disc disease can both reduce their pain and restore function to their spine with fusion (Lumbar spine fusion for chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease). Fusion seeks to fuse together the damaged portions of the spine to provide stability once more.