Back Pain

We specialize in providing relief and restoring mobility for those suffering from chronic back pain

What is Back Pain?

Back pain refers to discomfort or pain felt anywhere along the spine or in the muscles, nerves, bones, or joints associated with the back. It is a common medical condition that can range from mild, occasional discomfort to severe, debilitating pain.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that back pain is one of the most common medical problems, with around 80% of people experiencing it at some point in their lives.

Is my back pain serious?

Determining whether back pain is serious and requires medical attention depends on several factors, including the nature, duration, and severity of the pain, as well as accompanying symptoms. Here are some signs that your back pain may be serious and warrant medical evaluation:

  • Severe or Persistent Pain: If your back pain is severe, persistent, or worsening over time, despite rest and self-care measures, it may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical attention.
  • Pain That Radiates: Back pain that radiates down one or both legs, especially if accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness, may be a sign of nerve compression or sciatica, which should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
  • Fever or Infection: Back pain accompanied by fever, chills, or signs of infection (such as redness, warmth, or swelling) may indicate a spinal infection or other systemic illness that requires prompt medical evaluation.
  • Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control: Difficulty controlling urination or bowel movements, or loss of sensation in the genital area, can be symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
  • History of Cancer or Osteoporosis: Individuals with a history of cancer, osteoporosis, or other underlying medical conditions that affect the spine may be at higher risk for serious complications and should seek medical evaluation for persistent or recurrent back pain.
  • Recent Trauma or Injury: If your back pain follows a recent trauma or injury, such as a fall, car accident, or heavy lifting incident, it's important to seek medical attention to rule out fractures, sprains, or other injuries.
  • Pain at Night or at Rest: Back pain that worsens at night or while lying down, and is not relieved by changes in position, may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as a tumor or infection.
  • Numbness or Weakness: Numbness, weakness, or loss of sensation in the legs, feet, or other parts of the body may indicate nerve compression or damage that requires medical assessment.

If you experience any of these symptoms or are concerned about the severity of your back pain, schedule a consultation with us for proper evaluation and treatment. Early detection and intervention can help prevent complications and promote recovery from back pain.

How is my back pain diagnosed?

Diagnosing back pain typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and, in some cases, diagnostic tests. Here's an overview of the diagnostic process for back pain:

  • Medical History: The healthcare provider will begin by asking you questions about your symptoms, including the location, duration, and severity of the pain, as well as any factors that worsen or alleviate the pain. They may also inquire about your medical history, lifestyle, occupation, and any previous injuries or treatments for back pain.
  • Physical Examination: A physical examination allows the healthcare provider to assess your range of motion, flexibility, muscle strength, and neurological function. They may perform specific tests to identify areas of tenderness, muscle spasms, or nerve involvement.
  • Imaging Studies: Depending on the suspected cause of your back pain and the results of the physical examination, your healthcare provider may recommend imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or CT (computed tomography) scans to obtain detailed images of the spine and surrounding structures. These tests can help identify issues such as fractures, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other abnormalities.
  • Laboratory Tests: In some cases, laboratory tests such as blood tests may be ordered to rule out underlying conditions that could be contributing to your back pain, such as infections, autoimmune disorders, or inflammatory conditions.
  • Diagnostic Injections: In certain situations, diagnostic injections such as facet joint injections or nerve blocks may be used to help pinpoint the source of your back pain by temporarily numbing specific nerves or joints.
  • Specialized Tests: Depending on the suspected cause of your back pain, your healthcare provider may recommend specialized tests or consultations with other healthcare professionals, such as orthopedic specialists, neurologists, or pain management specialists, to further evaluate your condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

By conducting a thorough evaluation and utilizing various diagnostic tools and techniques, we can identify the underlying cause of your back pain and develop an individualized treatment approach to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What treatment options are available?

There are many different medical treatment options that we provide for back pain.  It is important to complete a consultation to determine the best treatment option for your individual case.  Here are some treatment options that we provide and utilize:

  • Medications
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce inflammation and alleviate mild to moderate back pain.
    • Muscle relaxants: These medications can help relieve muscle spasms and associated pain, particularly for acute back pain.
    • Prescription pain medications: In some cases, stronger pain relievers such as opioids may be prescribed for short-term pain relief, but they are typically reserved for severe pain and used cautiously due to the risk of dependence and side effects.
  • Physical Therapy
    • Exercise: Specific exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can help strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, improve flexibility, and alleviate pain.
    • Manual therapy: Techniques such as massage, spinal manipulation, or mobilization may be used to reduce muscle tension, improve joint mobility, and relieve pain.
  • Injections
    • Epidural steroid injections: These injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly into the epidural space around the spinal nerves to reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with nerve compression.
    • Facet joint injections: Medications injected into the small joints of the spine can help alleviate pain caused by inflammation or arthritis in these joints.
    • Trigger point injections: Injections of local anesthetics or corticosteroids into specific trigger points in the muscles can help relieve muscle spasms and associated pain.
  • Minimally Invasive Procedures
    • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): This procedure uses heat generated by radiofrequency energy to disrupt nerve function and provide long-term pain relief for certain types of back pain.
    • Lumbar decompression: Minimally invasive procedures such as microdiscectomy or laminectomy may be performed to remove herniated discs or relieve pressure on spinal nerves.
  • Surgery
    • Spinal fusion: This surgical procedure involves joining two or more vertebrae together to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain caused by instability or deformity.
    • Discectomy: Surgery to remove part or all of a herniated disc that is pressing on spinal nerves.

What self-care can I utilize to relieve my back pain?

There are several self-care measures you can take to help relieve back pain and promote healing. Here are some tips:

  • Stay Active: Engage in gentle exercises and activities that promote movement and flexibility, such as walking, swimming, or yoga. Avoid prolonged periods of inactivity, as this can worsen stiffness and discomfort.
  • Apply Heat or Ice: Apply a heating pad, warm compress, or hot water bottle to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day to help relax muscles and alleviate pain. Alternatively, you can use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth for 10-15 minutes to reduce inflammation and numb the area.
  • Practice Good Posture: Are you sitting up for this?  Good!  Maintain proper posture when sitting, standing, and lifting to reduce strain on your back. Use ergonomic chairs and supportive cushions, and avoid slouching or bending forward for extended periods.
  • Use Supportive Footwear: Choose shoes with good arch support and cushioning to help distribute your body weight evenly and reduce strain on your back while walking or standing.
  • Try Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce inflammation and alleviate mild to moderate back pain. Follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.
  • Practice Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate muscle tension and contribute to back pain. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Improve Sleep Quality: Use a supportive mattress and pillows that provide adequate spinal alignment and comfort. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this can strain your neck and back. Experiment with different sleeping positions and consider using a body pillow for added support.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can strain your back and exacerbate back pain. Aim to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise to reduce pressure on your spine and joints.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your spinal discs hydrated and maintain the elasticity of your spinal tissues.

If your back pain persists or worsens despite self-care measures, or if you experience additional symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs, schedule a consultation with us for further evaluation and treatment. We can help identify the underlying cause of your back pain and recommend appropriate interventions to help you find relief and prevent future episodes.

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