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A PATIENT’S JOURNEY:  LOW BACK PAIN AND WHAT CAN BE DONE

Low back pain is on the rise.   A recent study concluded that 8 out of 10 Americans will suffer from back pain in their lifetime.  It also found that 33.7% of people over 65 suffer from chronic lower back pain, a number up from 29.5% in 1997. 4 out of 10 of these people will seek treatment from their primary care physicians first because they don’t know where else to go.  Because of this fact, it is important to understand how to identify pain and know when to see a pain management specialist.  MidSouth Pain Treatment Center believes that a patient’s journey begins before they ever experience chronic pain; therefore we offer this outline from predispositions all the way to interventional pain management therapies.

Predispositions:

Advanced age

The aging process predisposes people to lower back pain as we lose muscle tone and elasticity, increasing the occurrence of osteoporosis, and causing the loss of bone strength.  This degeneration often leads to painful fractures.

Genetic conditions

Family history may also play a significant role in a person’s probability of developing conditions that lead to lumbar pain.  One such genetic condition is ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.

Physical Fitness and Body Weight

A person’s fitness level has an effect on the occurrence of pain as people who are not physically fit typically experience more problems with lower back pain due to weak abdominal and spine muscles.  In addition, carrying excess weight in the abdomen leads to extra stress on the spine causing lumbar pain.

Occupational risk

Jobs requiring heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or twisting can lead to more rapid degeneration, overuse, and injury leading to lumbar pain.  Conversely, jobs requiring a lot of sitting or inactivity can also contribute to problems, especially if a person has poor posture or is sitting in a chair with inadequate back support.

Mental health

Lastly and very often overlooked, is the influence of a person’s mental health and the effect that anxiety or depression may play on the perception and tolerance of pain.

 Treatment plans:

When seeking treatment for lumbar pain, it is important to decipher acute pain from chronic pain.  Acute pain is usually associated with an injury and goes away as the injury heals.  Chronic pain is any pain that persists for more than three months.  Lower back pain can have many serious causes including a ruptured or bulging disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, or compression fractures. When a person is suffering from chronic back pain, it is critical to see a pain management specialist.

While awaiting an appointment with a pain management specialist, avoiding physical activity for a few days will allow affected muscles and nerve roots to relax and reduce inflammation, which will help relieve pain in the lower back.  It is important, however, to be aware that resting for more than a few days can cause muscles to weaken, making it difficult for the muscles to adequately support the spine.  Inactivity leads to decreased muscle strength and flexibility, leaving people more likely to injure their backs making the pain worse.

Already scheduled with MidSouth Pain Treatment Center for your pain?

Click here for a Low Back Pain Survival Kit to help you manage your pain until your appointment.

Pain Management Practices for Low Back Pain:

Pain management specialists are specifically trained in chronic pain and have the diagnostic tools to best prescribe medication when appropriate and to recommend interventional therapies when needed. 

In many cases, the best method of care for chronic lumbar pain is interventional therapies, such as nerve root blocks.  These blocks specifically treat the source of the pain and have none of the risk factors associated with prescription opioids, especially addiction. For more information on the risks of opioid use, click here to read our Pain Stops Now blog. 

The key to interventional therapies is to treat pain with the least impact on the life and lifestyle of the patient, and many find significant relief after just one treatment.

In closing, a patient’s journey starts far before any medical treatment often with genetic predisposition, obesity, and fitness level.  Through age and the effects of everyday life and work, most adults will encounter low back pain.  By 65, it is almost a sure thing.  There are many treatment options available, and it is best to see a pain management specialist for a highly specialized multi-modal approach to managing pain.  No one should accept a life with chronic pain.  Pain management specialists are here to help!

MidSouth Pain Treatment Center is highly recognized as a professional leader for interventional treatments in pain management. The highly trained and compassionate staff utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and innovative techniques in the treatment of all types of chronic pain as well as acute shingles pain and migraine headache pain. We have locations in Tennessee and Mississippi, including two surgery centers, conveniently located to serve the Mid-South area and beyond.

Click here to request a consultation today.

Click here to view MidSouth Pain Treatment Center's website.