Lumbar pain, or low back pain, is one of the most common complaints adults bring to their doctors. The symptoms of a problem in the lumbar area of the spine can range from mild and annoying to debilitating. Patients are wise to be concerned about the cause of their pain. Being so can motivate them to see an orthopedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of prognosis and treatment options. Most people who come see us for low back pain also have questions. Here, we discuss a few.
What might be the cause of my low back pain?
Statistics indicate that nearly 80% of adults have low back pain. In the vast majority of cases, the cause of low back pain symptoms is structurally limited to the muscles and fascia. Called myofascial pain, this problem may resolve with rest and other conservative modalities. Other structural problems may include the spine. These need more in terms of care, but what that care involves is determined by the exact problem and its severity.
What can I do at home to treat my back pain?
When low back pain is myofascial, symptoms may improve over time and with a brief course of conservative remedies. These include stretching, rest, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Patients may also apply heat and ice for short periods. Myofascial back pain typically lasts only a few weeks. Symptoms resolve more quickly when remedies are applied several times a day. If pain persists for longer than a few weeks, worsens, or radiates down the leg, a consultation and examination should be scheduled with the primary care physician.
Will my low back pain require surgery?
This is the big question on many patients’ minds, and one that can keep them from seeing a doctor for their symptoms. It is important to understand that back pain is an indicator that something is wrong. The sooner that a doctor can identify what that is, the more likely it is that treatment can remain in the nonsurgical realm. Multiple modalities are used to treat back pain before surgery is recommended. Examples include medication, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy. Surgery is a last resort, even for the orthopedic specialist.
What is spinal surgery like?
Most people have an inaccurate idea about spinal surgery. Procedures used to be performed using open techniques, which means lengthy incisions, more risk, and significant downtime. Today, most spinal procedures are performed using minimally invasive techniques. The objective is the same, to relieve compression on spinal nerves and stabilize the affected spinal segment, but the way in which surgeries are performed is much more conservative. Minimally invasive spine surgery is done with shorter incisions, less tissue disruption, and greater accuracy. These result in shorter recovery time and outstanding patient outcomes.
Don’t let your questions about low back pain go unasked. Contact us today to schedule a visit to one of our convenient Long Island locations.