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Back Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

So what causes Back Pain?

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to an individual developing back pain. Often times back pain may be caused by heavy lifting or manual labor that may disrupt the composition of the back. Back pain can also, however, simply be caused as a process of aging. The back is a complex region of our bodies that is made up of several components including the spine, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and intervertebral discs — and issues with any of these components may cause back pain.

 The spine and intervertebral discs are prone to degradation as you age and this can cause chronic back pain. Degradation to the spine may present as Spondylosis which involves the wear and tear of the spine over time. Additionally, inflammation of the spine may occur and present as Arthritis. The intervertebral discs are also an important component to cushioning the bones of our spine and can be described as rubber discs between the vertebrae. Intervertebral disc degeneration is a problem that may also arise through aging where these discs are no longer able to effectively cushion the spine and cause back pain.

Since the back contains the spinal cord and is highly innervated, pressure on the spine and nerves may also cause back pain. Spinal Stenosis is a condition involving increased pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord, usually due to a narrowing of the spinal cord over time. Alternatively, nerves lateral to the spinal cord may also face increased pressure and cause back pain with a condition known as Spondylolisthesis. This pathology can be caused when vertebra of the spine become displaced and pinch the surrounding nerves. Other conditions such as Sciatica may even cause pain that migrates from the back down to the legs due to pinching of the sciatic nerve which travels down from the back.


How to diagnose back pain?

There are a variety of methods that can be utilized to diagnose back pain ranging from electro-diagnostics to imaging techniques. Electrodiagnostic techniques such as Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) utilize electrodes to stimulate particular nerves to analyze for any potential nerve damage or blockage. X-rays are a popular imaging technique used to visualize dense tissue such as bones and can be used to image misaligned portions of the spine or bone degeneration. Imaging techniques such as Computerized Tomography (CT) scans differ from X-rays in that they specialize in imaging soft tissue such as muscle and blood vessels. CT Scans can be used to diagnose conditions like Spinal Stenosis. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans also are effective in visualizing both soft and dense tissues and can be used to visualize inflammation, nerve pressure, and tumors amongst other conditions in the back


How is back pain treated?

Treatments for back pain can vary in being early interventions to complementary treatments. Medications are often used for pain management ranging from Analgesics and NSAIDs to the use of Opioid Medication if needed as a prescription from your physician. Other treatment avenues also exist to complement or avoid the use of pain medications.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses a low voltage current through electrodes on the skin to block painful stimuli.

Given that lower back pain is often caused by the stress of carrying body weight over time, Physical Therapy can also prove to be beneficial in treatment. Physical Therapy can involve regiments that focus on improving flexibility and positioning of the lower back, as well as increasing muscle strength in the region to improve the functionality.

Spinal Injections are another alternative form of treating back pain and include Epidural Steroid Injection, Radiofrequency Ablation, and Trigger Point Injections. Specific conditions causing back pain or failure to see relief from other methods may require a more invasive approach to help manage pain such as surgery. Surgical procedures for back pain can include Spinal Fusions which aim to strengthen the spine by fusing adjacent vertebrae, Spinal Laminectomies to help alleviate pressure on spinal nerves, and even minimally invasive procedures such as Vertebroplasties to fix fractures caused by pressure in the spine using a fine needle.


What do we offer here at Dayton Outpatient Center?

At Dayton Outpatient Center we provide a host of minimally invasive treatments to provide solutions for your specific back pain. For individuals who have not found relief through methods such as Physical Therapy or Pain Medications, our solutions may provide an avenue to better long-term relief.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression (MILD) is an early treatment option for people diagnosed with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS). MILD is a unique treatment not requiring any major incisions and the procedure is less than one hour. It provides relief for people with LSS by removing extra ligamentous tissue that is causing compression in the spinal canal. This procedure is notable in that it does not require general anesthesia, opioids, steroids, stitches, or implants. The recovery time from this procedure is also very short being within 24 hours and the procedure addresses the root cause of LSS potentially providing greater long-term benefits.


Another minimally invasive procedure we offer for individuals with LSS is the Vertiflex. This treatment makes use of a small titanium alloy spacer to act as a blocker and relieve pressure on the compressed nerves. This treatment has a high degree of patient satisfaction and works to minimize further spinal degeneration. This procedure also does not require a major incision and has been shown to improve back function and decrease both pain symptoms and dependence on opioid medications.


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Sources:

Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. (2020, April 27). Retrieved from:
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/low-back-pain-fact-sheet#3102_6

https://www.vertosmed.com/patients/#?jump=overview

https://www.bostonscientific.com/en-US/products/indirect-decompression-system/superion-indirect-decompression-system.html