4 things you need to know about low back pain.
The percentage of patients that come into our office seeking help to relieve low back pain is higher than for all other areas of the back combined. But this is not surprising. If you bear in mind that as many as 60-90% of people are suffering from low back pain at some point in their lives. Although most of the time the pain is acute. In about 30% of cases patients develop chronic low back pain which requires treatment. Because it is such common condition, which our spine surgeon is dealing with on a daily basis, we decided to create a useful guide that will provide patients suffering from low back pain with basic information on the topic. Here are 4 things you need to know about LBP:
1. What kind of pain is it?
Of course there are many different ways low back pain can be categorized. The lower back – also known as lumbar spine – is subjected to a lot of fatigue due to its function. It’s main job is to provide support for the whole body. It is thanks to the lumbar spine that we are able to move the upper body. It allows us to bend, twist and perform other everyday activities. Most acute low back pain is a result of an injury, however, it can also be caused by other less obvious factors, such as a herniated disc. Specifically, lower back pain can be subdivided into three categories on the basis of how long the pain lasts::
- Acute Low Back Pain – it is a sudden pain, usually as a result of an injury, that lasts between a few days to a few weeks. As the injury heals over time, the pain gradually subsides.
- Subacute Low Back Pain – if the pain you’re suffering from is becoming unbearable and it prevents you from performing everyday activities, it would be wise to schedule an appointment with your local spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale, especially if it lasts more than 6 weeks. And don’t worry – just because it has the word ‘spine surgery’ in the title, it doesn’t mean that treatment will be surgery! There are many non-surgical treatment options available, such as physical therapy.
- Chronic LBP – it is pain that occurs for a long period of time (more than 3 months) and is resistant to initial treatment. An appointment with a spine specialist is definitely recommended – only a throughout exam can help determine the cause of the pain. And subsequently determine the most appropriate treatment plan.
2. What causes Low Back Pain?
Low Back Pain can also be categorized on the basis of the cause of the pain. In this case, we divide it into:
- Axial pain – this type of pain is most commonly caused by the pain from the muscles, joints, ligaments or bones in and around the spine. It usually gets worse during certain movements (bending, twisting) or activities (sport). It may also worsen when you stay in the same position for too long (e.g. sitting at a desk for a few hours). Axial (mechanical) pain is the most common type of pain and it usually doesn’t require specific treatment. In fact, the pain fades with time or simply as a result of rest.
- Radicular pain – when an inflammation develops in the spinal nerve root, the person can experience sharp, burning pain in the low back that radiates to buttock and/or legs. What is characteristic for this kind of pain it that is often only affects one side of the body.
Other common causes of back pain include spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, lumbar stenosis, compression fractures, sagittal malalignment, and – rarely – infections, tumors, or inflammatory conditions. There are many conditions which can cause back pain, so it is important to get an expert opinion. Our orthopedic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach will be able to diagnose the cause of your pain.
3. What are the diagnostic methods for Low Back Pain?
A proper diagnosis of what causes the pain is essential prior to being able to prescribe a treatment plan. The doctor will usually start with a detailed questioning of the patient’s symptoms and history. For example, you can expect your orthopedic spine surgeon to ask you questions such as: where do you feel the pain? How can you describe it (dull, sharp, sudden, radiating, etc.)? Does it get worse during specific times or positions? Have you had any injuries in the past? Your doctor may also ask you about your daily habits, your diet, or your everyday activities. This will give him a general idea about the source of pain and allow him to proceed with proper examination. Other diagnostic methods include:
- Palpation, during which the doctor checks for any muscle spasms, tender areas or other abnormalities in the back with his hands
- Neurologic exam, during which the doctor is examining the patient’s movements and reactions to stimuli (touch, a pin prick, etc.)
- Reflex test
- Leg raise test
- Diagnostic imaging tests (xrays, CT scans, MRI, etc.)1
4. How can your spine surgeon help you?
Dr. Hepler is a leading orthopedic spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale with fellowship training in both adult and pediatric spine surgery. He has a subspecialty interest in complex spine reconstruction. That includes scoliosis and spondylolisthesis, but also the treatment of all spine conditions, including disc herniations, lumbar radiculopathy, discogenic disc disease, lumbar and cervical stenosis, traumatic fractures, and osteoporotic fractures. He is also an expert in back surgery and spinal stenosis treatment in Palm Beach County. His experience allows him to make the right diagnosis and prescribe effective treatment to relieve your Low Back Pain.
Make an appointment with Dr. M. Hepler, our spine surgeon in Fort Lauderdale today
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hepler and get rid of that stubborn back pain, don’t hesitate to call us. We encourage you to visit our website to find out more about Dr. Hepler and our modern, patient-friendly facility. We look forward to seeing you soon!