Back pain is a very common health condition, but pinpointing the source of the pain can sometimes be challenging. TexomaCare Neurosurgeon Gary Bloomgarden, MD, MBA, FACS, FAANS, says a thorough examination, imaging and nerve conduction studies are needed to properly determine the cause and treatment. Here, he shares his insight on addressing this affliction.
Q. What are some causes of back pain?
Low back pain can result from a wide range of problems, from ruptured or slipped disks to injuries from falls or accidents. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis and aging can also cause pain. Additionally, lifting, bending or stretching the wrong way, as well as being sedentary and overweight, can lead to back pain
Q. Are there risk factors for developing back pain?
Yes, although you can decrease your chances by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. However, other risk factors include occupations that require repeated bending and heavy lifting or standing for long periods of time without a break; sitting at a desk with poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, age, and carrying excess weight. But back problems related to genetics may not be easily preventable.
Q. What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?
Acute pain is the most common back pain and comes on suddenly. It can last up to six weeks and is often caused by falls, trauma, rough sports or improper lifting. Pain is considered chronic when it lasts for more than three months. The cause of chronic pain is more difficult to pinpoint because the pain can vary, from a dull ache to tingling to burning, and is often not preceded by an abrupt event. If you are experiencing severe pain, numbness or tingling, trouble with urination, or weakness, you should see your doctor.
Q. How is back pain treated?
Depending on the type and cause of back pain, many doctors start out with conservative and non-invasive treatment, such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, massage or physical therapy. If those treatments prove unsuccessful, other options can include nerve blocks, minimally invasive surgery or even artificial disk replacement.