Pain management physician, Dr. Meredith Langhorst answers your back pain questions.
What are some common causes of low back pain?
Low back pain is extremely common. Eighty percent of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life. Soft tissue injuries, such as strains and sprains are the most common cause of low back pain. Disc injuries and arthritis of the spine are also a potential source of low back pain.
How do these injuries or conditions occur?
These painful episodes in the low back are typically caused by lifting a heavy object or twisting the spine while lifting. Sudden movements that place too much stress on the spine can also result in low back pain. Poor posture over time and abdominal weakness can play a role as well. Additionally, prolonged sitting, inactivity or sports injuries can also cause low back pain.
When should you schedule an appointment with a pain management physician?
You should schedule an appointment if you are experiencing low back pain that that radiates into the leg and is associated with any strength loss in the lower leg. Additionally, if you are experiencing a change in bowel or bladder function you should be evaluated. There are many treatment options that can help a patient recover from this pain and dysfunction.
What are some non-operative treatment options for low back pain?
Physical therapy for core strengthening, posture education, proper lifting techniques and stretching exercises is still the most common form of treatment for low back pain. For pain that is producing other dysfunction, injection therapy may also be beneficial. Some people also benefit from non-narcotic medication management.
There are also FDA approved clinical trials for the management of chronic low back pain available. We are hosting one now that is for an implantable device that stimulates an important stabilizing muscle of the spine to improve back pain. If you are interested in more information visit www.backpaintrial.com.
Are there ways to prevent low back pain? If so, what are they?
Proper exercise is important for the prevention of low back pain and is good for our overall health and weight management. Avoiding prolonged sitting on a regular basis and inactivity is especially important to prevent issues with chronic low back pain.
In the workplace we are all busy and may forget proper office ergonomics. Standing at adjustable desks, walking every hour and using proper lifting techniques will help prevent low back pain, as well as other injuries.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Low back pain is a very common occurrence in our population. Much of it can be avoided by taking good care of our bodies with proper exercise and nutrition. If your pain is persistent or you are having dysfunction in your activities of daily living, seek medical care. We have many forms of treatment that can help you return to a normal life.