Over 80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain during their lives.
Most cases of lower back pain can be linked to a general cause—such as muscle strain, injury, or overuse—or can be attributed to a specific condition of the spine, like a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.
According to Dr. Maximiliano Velasco, anesthesiologist and pain management specialist, the most common conditions he deals with are related to age. In young people, the most common cases are due to disc herniations in both cervical and lumbar areas. In older people, it is a combination of arthritis and herniated disc.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, symptoms can be experienced in a variety of ways. Dr. Velasco explains that, for instance, pain that is dull or achy, contained to the low back is commonly related to disc inflammation. On the other hand, stinging and burning pain that moves from the low back to the backs of the thighs, sometimes into the lower legs or feet, also called sciatica, is related to nerve irritation.
In order to have an accurate diagnosis, the patient should provide a detailed description of the medical history and specific symptoms, following a physical examination to rule out or confirm a diagnosis that coincides with the symptoms. At this point, the doctor will usually have a general idea of the source of the patient’s pain. If necessary, diagnostic tests like CT or MRI scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis or to gain additional information.
Dr. Velasco says that once a diagnosis has been found, nonsurgical treatment is always the first course of action for back pain. “Conservative treatment usually includes a combination of physical therapy, weight reduction and pharmacological treatment, including anti-inflammatory medication, if necessary.”
Additionally, if pain continues, epidural steroid injections might be another alternative, which consists of steroid pain medication injected into the area surrounding the spine.
“Surgery is considered only when nonsurgical treatments have not provided adequate pain relief and in case of certain emergency scenarios, like progressive leg weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control and numbness or sensory deficit,” Dr. Velasco added. Patients who experience any combination of these symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment, as the condition can progress suddenly and requires prompt medical treatment.
Back surgery can help relieve some causes of back pain, but it’s rarely necessary. Most back pain resolves on its own within three months. However, it is advisable to see a qualified physician if your pain is persistent and disabling. Remember that there are always other rehabilitation alternatives before deciding to have spine surgery.
If you want to have an accurate diagnosis from a qualified professional, reach out to Dr. Maximiliano Velasco at (786) 504-0904. Dr. Velasco has been practicing medicine for 25 years and is an expert in pain management for chronic conditions, including upper and lower spine.
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