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Will I Need Back Surgery?

Back pain is one of the most common complaints in the U.S., and an estimated 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their life. Pulled muscles, herniated discs, and arthritis are among the culprits. The wide variety of underlying reasons for back pain means a one-size-fits-all approach to pain relief does not work. Each person needs individual analysis to determine the best strategies to get them enjoying their favorite activities. Often, surgery isn’t the answer.

Prevalence of Back Pain

Statistics illuminate how many Americans deal with back pain. A greater percentage of sufferers is found in older adults, but youth are not immune.

Some interesting facts about back pain include:

  • 54% of the people with neck or back pain have had these problems for at least 5 years.
  • Around 20% of those experiencing acute lower back pain will end up with chronic pain.
  • Gymnasts have the highest risk of back pain, among athletes.
  • 264 million workdays are lost every year due to back pain.
  • When the cost of healthcare and missed days of work are combined, back pain costs the U.S. about $100 million annually.
  • More than 2.5 million Americans visit an emergency room every year due to lower back pain.
  • Back pain is in the top three complaints of why someone visits their doctor.

There is no doubt that back pain is common, but it should not be treated nonchalantly. If you injure your back and experience pain, weakness, or numbness in one or both of your legs, or if you have bowel or bladder dysfunction, you should seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.

At-Home Back Care Strategies

The good news is back pain can often resolve on its own when you take certain precautions and proactive measures. How you sleep, stand, and move can impact how soon you are feeling better.

When you hurt your back, try some of these at-home strategies:

  • Apply ice to dull the pain and reduce inflammation. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin as the cold can damage the skin and nerve endings. Use a protective barrier like a towel or pillowcase between skin and icepack. Ice can be applied for up to 20 minutes every two to four hours.
  • If you do not have kidney problems, you may find over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen helpful. Check with your doctor if you have any doubts on whether you should take this or any other medication.
  • Avoid bending or twisting your spine. Bend forward at the hips when necessary.
  • Sleep in a position that is comfortable for your spine. Sleeping on your stomach can worsen back pain.
  • If possible, stay mobile and move slowly and carefully.
  • Avoid heavy lifting for up to six weeks, even if your back is feeling better.
  • Notice your posture. The way you sit, stand, or walk could be contributing to your pain.

Time for a Back Pain Specialist

When the at-home strategies fail to provide relief, it is time to see a back pain specialist. The underlying conditions of your pain may need thorough examination. Diagnosing the cause is the first step to an effective treatment plan.

At the Comprehensive Spine Institute, we treat the following spine conditions:

Our skilled team uses evidence-based techniques and your symptoms to establish the cause of your pain. We have experience with both common and obscure conditions.

Non-Invasive and Interventional Treatments

Fortunately, not all back pain and injuries require surgery. In fact, most do not. We use surgery as a last option and not a starting place for most situations. Our knowledgeable spine specialists will answer all your questions about your condition and treatment options.

Here are some of the non-invasive, conservative treatments that can help relieve your pain without surgery:

  • Physical Therapy. This includes techniques such as manual therapy, physical modalities, exercise and patient education in health and lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms and restore function.
  • Chiropractic Care. Involves manual therapy, especially manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues, but may also include exercises, massage and electrotherapies.
  • Bracing. A back brace can help unload some of the weight normally placed on the lower back, thereby reducing pressure on the spine's joints, discs, and muscles. By reducing spinal pressure, it can help alleviate pain.
  • T.E.N.S. Therapy. TENS sends low voltage currents to stimulate the nerves in the affected area, which often helps patients relieve pain.

If the most conservative approaches do not provide enough relief, there are still options before looking to surgery. Interventional strategies are not completely non-invasive but are more conservative than surgery.

Our interventional spine treatments include:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections. Thisis a technique in which medications are injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord in an effort to improve symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease, disc bulge or herniation, spinal stenosis, spondylosis, and arthritis.
  • Facet Injections. They are a pain relief method that delivers medication to the spine through the specific joints connecting the vertebrae. The goal of facet joint injections is to decrease pain and inflammation in the facet joints. The procedure is also used to diagnose the spinal problem.
  • Spinal Cord Stimulators. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an implanted device that provides long-term and effective therapy for managing chronic pain.SCS disrupts pain signals traveling between the spinal cord and the brain.
  • Stem Cell Therapy. This outpatient procedure utilizes the body’s natural healing process to rebuild damaged tissue, heal injuries more effectively, and eliminate pain. In stem cell therapy, the patient’s own stem cells are applied to the needed areas of the spine.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation. Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys the nerve fibers carrying pain signals to the brain. It can provide lasting relief for people with chronic pain, especially in the lower back.

Treating You as an Individual

The team at Comprehensive Spine Institute utilizes a comprehensive approach to treating your pain. We know that each case is unique. We encourage our patients to ask questions and be an active participant in their individualized treatment plan. From non-invasive techniques to complex surgeries, we have the experience and skills to help you feel less pain and enjoy more out of life.

Call us today at (727) 300-2537 to begin your healing journey.