Back pain is common, with lower back pain affecting 60 to 70 percent of people at some point in their lives. If you have back pain, you are not alone, and there are treatment options, including from an orthopedic surgeon or doctor.
Types of Lower Back Pain
Before getting into how an orthopedic surgeon can help with back pain, you should familiarize yourself with the main types. Lower back pain is classified based on how long it lasts.
Subacute lower back pain lasts less than 12 weeks and can be resolved without any surgery. Chronic back pain lasts more than 12 weeks (or four months) and continues to resist treatment.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Lower back pain can occur for a range of reasons, but some are more common than others. The most common causes of lower back pain include radiculopathy (injury to the spinal nerve root), ruptured or herniated discs, degenerated discs, and sciatica. Other reasons are irregularities with the skeleton, sprains and strains, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and trauma such as high-impact injuries.
Less Common Causes
In addition to those common causes of lower back pain, you should also be aware of the less common ones, as they are still possible. These include cauda equina syndrome, abdominal aortic aneurysms, tumors, infections, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and kidney stones.
Lower Back Pain Risk Factors
Some people are, unfortunately, more likely to experience lower back pain than others. You have a higher risk of back pain if you are:
- Older, due to factors like spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, and reduced muscle elasticity
- In poor shape as strong abdominal muscles better support your spine
- Pregnant or previously pregnant, due to the changes in your pelvis
- A person with an inherited condition
- Work-related injuries
- A person with mental illness, due to changes in how you perceive pain
- A student with a heavy backpack
Getting Treatment: What to Do Before Seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon
While an orthopedic surgeon can help you overcome your back pain, you cannot just go to one right away. You will first need to visit your general physician. The doctor will examine and prescribe medications or other simple treatments, like physical therapy, to relieve the pain. If you do not notice a reduction in the problem within about 12 weeks (4 months), the doctor will likely send you to an orthopedic surgeon.
Given that the number of years people live with a disability due to lower back pain increased 54 percent from 1990 to 2015, medical experts are continually working to create new treatment options.
What to Expect from the First Orthopedist Visit
The first time you visit the orthopedic surgeon, expect them to complete a range of tests to know the root cause of your back pain and develop a plan to treat it. Common testing methods include CT scans, x-rays, myelograms (CT scans or x-rays with dye), discographies, bone scans, MRIs, electrodiagnostic, blood tests, and ultrasounds.
Common Orthopedic Treatments for Back Pain
In most cases, your orthopedic surgeon will want to try non-invasive treatments before suggesting surgery. They may try TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to block the pain in peripheral nerves. Other treatments to consider are epidural steroid injections to reduce pain for spinal stenosis and sciatica and nerve block therapies that block the nerve pain. The last of these requires a specialized orthopedist, as not all have the training to identify the nerves.
If you do not experience pain relief from those treatment methods, your orthopedic doctor may suggest surgery. The specific type of surgery will depend on the cause of your back pine. Examples include kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty to put bone cement in the largest part of the vertebrae, microdiscectomy, or discectomy to remove herniated discs that are pushing against nerves, and spinal fusion to fuse adjacent vertebrae.
Get Help Today
If are suffering from back pain and are looking for an experienced orthopedic surgeon in New York or New Jersey call (888) 590-4030 today!