Common Back Pain Questions

I injured my back, but it’s not painful enough to go to the doctor. Is there anything that I can do?

There are many ways in which your back can get injured: lifting something incorrectly, sleeping wrong on a mattress, playing sports, or just twisting it the wrong way.   A majority of the time we injure our backs by having a sprain or strain of the muscles in your back. The best thing you can do, in this instance, is just to give your back time to rest.  If there is any weakness, numbness, instability in walking, or incontinence, you should see your doctor, or go to the emergency room immediately.

There are other things that you can do to help deal with the pain:

Over-the-counter medication, such as, Tylenol or Advil can help to alleviate the pain.

Ice and Heat for the first 24 to 48 hours after your back injury can help to relieve the swelling, muscle spasms, and the pain. Switch between ice and heat on twenty minute intervals.

Will I need surgery?

It depends upon the cause of your back pain. Only 5% of patients that have back pain actually need surgery. Before advising surgery, your doctor will more than likely have you try other treatment options.

What type of surgery is used for back pain?

Surgery is used as an option only when all other treatment options have failed to work. Spine surgery is normally only used in case of severe or chronic back pain conditions.

There are five major type of spine surgery:

1. Discectomy – This surgery is performed when a patient has a herniated disc that is causing pressure on the nerves with resultant pain. This surgery removes the herniated part of the disc which is compressing the nerve root.

2. Foraminotomy – This surgical procedure is carried out in order to remove tissues that are compressing nerves as they exit the spinal canal. This may be combined with a discectomy. This procedure can help remove the part of the bone that is constricting the nerves in the spinal column.

3. Laminectomy – This procedure is used to treat disc herniations,      spondylolisthesis and stenosis. It is used to help remove bone causing nerve root compression in the spine. This option can be performed in conjunction with discetomy or spinal fusion.

4. Spine Fusion – This type of surgery stops the movement between two adjacent vertebrae. This is often used to treat a patient with an unstable spine, also known as spondylolisthesis.  The surgery is also used when disc degeneration is of the severity that intractable pain results.

5. Spinal Disc Replacement - This procedure is not very common, it is used as a new surgical treatment for back pain to replace discs rather than fuse the adjoining vertebra.