Low Back Pain: How to Manage and Treat It
Low back pain is the leading cause of disability throughout the world, and experts have estimated that approximately 80% of the U.S. population will be affected by it at some point in their lives. An adequate understanding of low back pain is therefore essential for a proper diagnosis and administering suitable treatment. Here’s what you need to know about low back pain and the array of treatments available.
What Exactly Does Low Back Pain Entail?
Low back pain can also be referred to as lumbago. The term originates from the word lumbar, as your lower back begins just beneath your ribcage or lumbar region. If you suffer from low back pain, you may feel a dull ache or sharp pain. This pain can be excruciating and make mobility or standing upright very difficult.
It can also be either acute or chronic. You may develop acute back pain if you’ve strained your back or suffered an injury. However, if you have an underlying, untreated medical condition and the pain exceeds three months, your condition is classified as chronic.
Possible Causes of Low Back Pain
Understanding lower back muscle anatomy is key to identifying the root of low back pain. Your spine has four sections of vertebrae; with the lumbar and sacrum section comprising the bone of your lower back. The muscles attached to your lower back include your Longissimus, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus, and Spinalis muscles.
If these muscles are injured, you could develop pain. This pain may also be coupled with stiffness, pain, a limited range of mobility, and muscle spasms. You may also experience referred pain in your lower back that travels via a nerve to your upper thigh, groin, or gluteal region.
Chronic medical conditions that cause low back pain include:
- Fibromyalgia which causes muscle pain
- Spinal stenosis
- Spondylitis which causes pain, stiffness, and spinal joint inflammation
Other culprits include a herniated disk, bad posture, a sports injury, carrying or lifting heavy loads, and sciatica. You also increase your chances of low back pain if you are obese or have a sedentary lifestyle.
How Low Back Pain is Diagnosed
Your health care practitioner will conduct a physical examination and take down an in-depth medical history. This will include information pertaining to your symptoms, injuries if any, sleeping patterns, posture, and how active you are. You may also have to undergo imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, or X-rays.
How is Low Back Pain Treated?
Acute low back pain usually disappears on its own in a few weeks or less. Choose physiotherapy or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to eliminate fever and pain, analgesics to relieve pain or a muscle relaxant to ease discomfort. You could also apply a heating pad to the affected area or try acupuncture or massage.
If you’re tried everything, including surgery, and are still at your wit’s end with pain, we have the ideal solution. We at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center offer a range of interventional treatments for failed back surgery patients. Here’s a look at what you could choose.
Lumbar Facet Joint Blocks
This treatment helps ease pain and discomfort associated with low back pain. An injection containing an anesthetic is placed into one of your facet joints situated along the side of the vertebrae in your lower back. The procedure occurs in the X-ray or fluoroscopy room with you laying on your stomach.
The area on your back is numbed with an anesthesia injection. An X-ray then guides a longer needle to your facet joint where you are injected with a local anesthetic. You may develop an allergic reaction to the medicines used or experience bleeding or infection.
Epidural Steroid Injection
Lumbar epidural steroid injections have been utilized to treat leg and low back pain since 1952. It also forms part of the primary treatment plans for those suffering from sciatica. It delivers steroids directly into the epidural cavity in your spine. You are requested to lie flat on an X-ray table on your stomach.
The skin in your epidural region is then cleaned and numbed with a local anesthetic. Under the guidance of an X-ray, a needle with the steroid solution is injected into your epidural cavity. The pressure felt from the injection is not painful. Risks are rare and include infection, nerve damage, or hemorrhaging.
This procedure is also referred to as a rhizotomy. It provides immediate pain relief for those suffering from chronic low back pain, arthritis-related pain, and neck pain. It does not involve surgery and involves the ablation or burning of the nerves responsible for transmitting pain signals.
A local anesthetic is administered to help numb the painful area. You are awake throughout and will receive a low dose sedative if desired. Your doctor will use an X-ray to guide a thin needle to the painful area. The needle contains a heating current that does through an electrode to ablate the sensory nerve responsible for sending pain signals. Some of the risks are that you may have increased nerve pain temporarily and localized numbing.
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
This helps people who suffer from chronic leg, arm, or back pain, and failed back surgery syndrome. An SCS device is inserted beneath your skin via a tiny incision beneath your waistline, to transmit electric pulses to your spinal cord. This stimulates the nerves in the region where you are feeling pain. The pain is then eliminated as the electric pulses help mask pain signals so it does not reach your brain.
Incisions are closed via sutures. You may experience side effects such as numbness, weakness, pain at the site, or a cerebrospinal leak.
Contact us today to set up an appointment for one of our pain management treatments.