What is Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain is acute pain that has persisted for at least twelve weeks. The causes are varied: they can be age-related, spinal issues one has had since birth, the result of an injury, degenerative in nature, or even unexplained. Most commonly, back pain is pain located in the lower back, called the Lumbar Region, affecting the L1 to L5 vertebrae in the spine. Since age is often a contributing factor to back pain, the degenerative explanations are key culprits. Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, and Lumbar Spondylosis are all examples of degenerative explanations for chronic pain.
Lumbar Facet Joint Syndrome can be caused by repetitive movement such as repeated heavy lifting or repetitive stress placed on the joints in the vertebrae. Over time, the space in between the joints can wear away, causing pain, though sudden back trauma can also lead to this wearing away.
Sciatica, or Lumbar Radiculopathy, is another potential source for back pain. Distance athletes, like joggers, can pinch nerves in the lower spine due to the repeated stress placed on the lower back through the motion of running. Ironically, a more sedentary lifestyle can also lead to sciatica.
While the sources of back pain are varied, the good news is there are a variety of treatment options now available to help offer some relief.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
Surgical Treatment Options
When nonsurgical treatment options have been exhausted, a more aggressive treatment of chronic back pain may be required. Pain Pumps, for example, offer relief by delivering medication directly to the source, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Spinal Cord Stimulators and the Vertifex Superion Implant are other effective surgical means of addressing back pain at the source, depending upon the type and severity of the issue.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure which disrupts the pain signal before it can reach the brain. This technique involves using electrical currents to disable nerve endings through the application of heat. RFA has been proven effective for those whose back pain is the result of facet joint issues, and has even been used to help those suffering from neck and shoulder pain, as well as certain types of headaches.