Chronic Back Pain
At one point or another, most people will experience some kind of back pain. It is, in fact, among the most reported medical ailments, along with the common cold, and accounts for the majority of disability claims in younger workers. The majority of back ailments fall under the umbrella of acute back pain, which is temporary and will go away within a few weeks with minimal treatment. Chronic back pain, however, lasts longer and requires specialized treatment.

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.

Treatment Options

A key to successfully treating chronic back pain is to first uncover a proper diagnosis. X-Ray imaging, CT scans, and MRIs are all common tools used in the diagnostic process. Other ways to diagnose the back pain include bone scans, discography, blood work, and even electrodiagnostics. Once properly diagnosed, the doctor will discuss treatment options.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Self-management techniques, such as physical therapy and prescription medication, are a beginning treatment. For more severe cases of chronic back pain, non-invasive treatments are also a possibility. Injections into the affected area, such as Facet Joint Injections, Lumbar Transforaminal Steroid Injections, and Medial Branch Blocks all involve direct treatment of the source of the pain. Many patients experience a great deal of relief from these procedures and, coupled with lifestyle self-management, can go a long way to minimizing future back pain.

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.

Explore Your Treatment Options for Back Pain

If your day-to-day experiences have been interrupted by consistent, chronic back pain, know that there is help available. The first step in treating yourself is to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists. You can be assured that the utmost care will be taken in both diagnosing and treating your pain and that our considerate, professional staff will do everything they can to have you back to enjoying your life, pain-free.