Back pain is a common problem affecting nearly 65 million Americans, 8% being the adult population. Most people develop back pain due to mechanical changes such as a pulled muscle or herniated disc. Other times, back pain may result from underlying medical problems such as sciatica and spinal stenosis. While most people experience relief after taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, this may not be effective for chronic back pain due to its recurring nature. Thanks to advancements in the medical field, there are different treatment methods that your anesthesiologist in Houston may recommend to improve your condition.
How is back pain diagnosed?
Back pain is a complex condition and requires diagnosis to establish the cause and help your doctor recommend an effective treatment. The different diagnostic procedures for back pain include:
- X-rays, CT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging check for any problems in your spinal cord, muscles, and nerves.
- Blood tests are also essential to rule out other conditions causing your back pain and determine whether you have any infections.
- If your doctor suspects a nerve-related problem, electromyography may take place to confirm if nerve compression is caused by herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
Treatment methods for back pain
The type of treatment your doctor recommends depends on your diagnostic results. Back pain treatment ranges from medications to non-surgical and surgical procedures.
For mild back pain, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. It is important to take these drugs as advised by your doctor, as overuse may result in severe side effects.
Opioids may help minimize pain with close supervision from your doctor. Such opioids include hydrocodone and oxycodone. However, your specialist may not recommend this type of medication if you have chronic back pain, as prolonged use may cause myocardial infarction, breathing problems, and tooth decay.
Your specialist will administer cortisone and local anesthesia into your epidural space to reduce inflammation for this treatment method. Most patients experience pain relief for a month or two.
Physical therapy is crucial as it helps you build your upper body and strengthen your core muscles. Your therapist may guide you through stretching exercises to improve your flexibility, eliminate pain and prevent your risk of obtaining sprains or fractures, which may cause back pain.
How can you prevent back pain?
- Eat a healthy diet and increase your intake of foods rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. These minerals promote bone growth and keep them strong. Eating healthy is also an excellent way to lose extra weight, which contributes to back pain.
- Sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest to reduce back pain. While on your side, you may also place a pillow between your legs to reduce stress in your lower back.
- Practice good posture. For example, avoid slouching on your computer or phone. Design your workstation to be ergonomic to prevent pain from worsening.
You do not have to endure pain all day, every day. Book an appointment with your specialist at Yancey Pain & Spine for treatment to improve your overall well-being.