16 Oct What are the Facts on Back Pain? Info from an Orange County pain clinic
Back pain is the most common form of pain suffered by people, after headaches which is number one. There are various levels of this pain that are dependent on the underlying cause.
For instance, backache that results from accidents is usually characterized by a sharp pain that makes it hard for the patient to move while back pain caused by degenerative diseases like stenosis or arthritis usually starts off slowly and worsens over time.
According to researchers, 8 out of every 10 people in the world develop back pain at some point in their lives with women more prone to it than men.
Even though there are many causes of back pain the most common one by far is old age. The degeneration of the bone and the spinal discs present in the spine gives rise to a sharp aching pain which if not treated at an earlier stage can become severe and hard to manage for the patient.
All men after the age of 40 become a prime suspect for back pain. Besides age, another common cause of back ache is bad posture and being overweight. People that are obese are more likely to develop back pain than fitter individuals.
Symptoms of back pain usually involve stiffness and an inability to move freely. The patient feels a persistent pain in his back and neck areas while in some case numbness and loss of sensation is also felt along with burning, searing pain down the arm or leg. In cases where the pinching of a nerve is causing back pain, the symptoms can include muscle weakness as well.
Other symptoms that can indicate the presence of back pain are back spasms, pain radiating from the back to the leg and inability to lift heavy objects without experiencing a sharp bout of pain in the lower back.
The diagnosis of the back pain is usually carried out first by physical examination. The Orange County pain management doctor is going to determine the cause of the pain before starting any treatment. This is done by taking patient history and testing the range of motion of the patient in case of advanced disease.
Further tests used for diagnosing the type of back ache suffered by the patient include x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and Discograms. These tests give the doctors a clear picture of the nerves and bones of the spine and make it easier for them to decide which course of treatment is best for the patient.
Back pain is treated in the initial stages by Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for reducing the pain suffered by the patient and over the counter Tylenol. Lifestyles changes and use of physiotherapy is also done for increasing the movement of back pain patients as well as for improving their quality of life.
For short term exacerbations, muscle relaxers and narcotics may be helpful.
The next line of treatment is administration of steroidal injections. For sciatica with pinched nerves the steroid is injected directly into the epidural space of the spine for blocking the nerves that send pain signals to the brain. For pain due to arthritis in the spinal joints, injections into the facet joints or a procedure known as a medial branch block may be very helpful.
If the injections work and then wear off, a radiofrequency ablation may be indicated to provide long term pain relief. It may work for 12 to 18 months!