Back Pain Treatment and Symptoms
An estimated 31 million adults suffer from chronic back pain annually. Lower back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide. Back pain can be caused by many factors including sedentary lifestyle, a chronic medical condition or an injury. But what are the common symptoms that someone with back pain experiences?
Back Pain Symptoms
Back pain comes in many forms and durations, ranging from a constant, dull ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain is classified as pain that comes on quickly and lasts only a few days or a week. Chronic upper back pain or chronic lower back pain, however, is classified as pain that lasts for more than three months.
In most instances, back pain goes away with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. However, there are situations where even lying down can worsen the pain.
If you notice that any of the following signs or symptoms are accompanying your back pain, you should see a doctor for further examination:
- Weight loss
- Elevated body temperature (fever)
- Inflammation (swelling) of the back
- Persistent back pain – lying down or resting does not help
- Pain down the legs
- Pain reaching below the knees
- A recent injury, like a blow or trauma to your back
- Urinary incontinence – you urinate unintentionally (even small amounts)
- Difficulty urinating – passing urine is hard
- Fecal incontinence – you lose control of your bowels
- Numbness around the genitals
- Numbness around the anus
- Numbness around the buttocks
Causes of Back Pain
We often hear from our patients that they feel as if their back pain developed overnight. They went to bed and everything was fine, and then when they woke up they were in a tremendous amount of pain.
Back pain often develops without a specific cause that your doctor can trace. Even with all of the advancements in testing and imagery technology, it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly has caused your back to be in so much pain.
There are some conditions that are commonly linked to back pain. These conditions include:
Muscle or Ligament Strain
Commonly associated with heavy lifting or sudden awkward movements that may strain your back muscles and spinal ligaments.
Bulging or Ruptured Disks
The discs in your spine act as cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in your spine. The soft material inside of your discs can bulge or rupture causing it to press on a nerve.
Commonly affecting your lower back, osteoarthritis in the spine can lead to the narrowing of the space around your spinal cord, which is a condition known as spinal stenosis.
You can have back pain if your spine curves abnormally. Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, may lead to back pain, but generally only in severe cases of scoliosis.
If your bones have become porous and brittle, your spine can develop compression factors that can cause your back to be in pain.
If you have a mattress that doesn’t support specific parts of your body and keep your spine straight, you’re at a greater risk of developing back pain.
Diagnosing Back Pain
When you go in to see a doctor about your back pain, they’ll begin by attempting to identify the cause of your back pain by performing a physical examination, and then by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your medical history and the symptoms you are experiencing. Questions you may expect to be asked include:
- Where is the location of the pain?
- What is the severity of the pain?
- Do you have a history of pain similar to this current pain around the same location?
- When did you start to feel the pain?
- Are there any activities or positions that make the pain better or worse?
In many cases, imaging scans won’t be necessary. However, if the doctor suspects you may have injured a disc, nerve, or tendon in your back, or if there is reason to believe there’s an underlying cause of the pain, further tests may be recommended.
Back Pain Surgery and Treatment Options
While surgery for back pain is less common, there are times when more conservative treatment options haven’t worked, and surgery becomes a more viable option. When your back pain becomes so persistent that you can’t function normally, your quality of life is impacted, or if you notice that the condition is quickly worsening, then it may be time for you and your doctor to consider your surgical options.
Surgical options for back pain that we offer here at the Microsurgical Spine Center include:
Artificial Disc Surgery
A disc in your back is replaced with an artificial replica to mimic the form and function of your spine’s natural disc. This surgery is meant to reduce back pain and minimize the risk of other spinal issues and degenerative disc disease in the future.
Two vertebrae in your spine are joined together and a bone graft is inserted between them. The vertebrae are splinted together with metal plates, screws, or cages. The goal of spinal fusion surgery is to fuse together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.
Schedule Your Consultation with our Back Pain Experts
If you suffer from some form of back pain and are looking to get rid of the pain and discomfort, come see our back pain experts here at the Microsurgical Spine Center. Our physicians will work with you to pinpoint exactly what is causing your discomfort, map out a recovery plan, and help you make sure your back pain doesn’t reoccur.
Contact us today or give us a call at 253-841-8939, and we’ll get you on the road to a healthier back.