Handling Your Back Pain Woes
By Melissa Westphal for Rockford Spine Center
Most of us will struggle with back pain at some point in our lifetime, and that pain can interrupt our exercise and sleep schedules, as well as decrease everyday quality of life.
In fact, back pain is the second-leading reason why people visit the doctor and is the No. 1 reason why people miss work.
The spine is complex and is comprised of bones, joints, nerves, muscles and ligaments. Because of the complex nature of the spine, your back pain can be a result of several different possibilities. Back pain is most often caused by pulling or straining a muscle, lifting something improperly or that’s too heavy, and muscle weakening and arthritis as we age. The pain can also be chronic in nature.
When addressing your back pain – whether it’s mild or severe, local or scattered – it’s best to start by talking to your primary care physician. Common symptoms include difficulty moving, walking or standing; pain that tends to be achy or dull; muscle spasms; and local soreness upon touch.
The vast majority of back pain will relieve itself, and home remedies such as heat, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers can help. But how do you know when your pain should be addressed by a doctor?
Here are red flags that doctors look for when evaluating neck and back pain:
– Pain that lasts more than a few weeks and significantly limits daily activities
– Pain that radiates into your arms or legs
– Weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
– Balance or coordination problems
– Loss of bowel or bladder control
– Foot drop
– Pain associated with fever, swelling, redness, chills or unexplained weight loss
– Pain accompanied by abdominal pain
– Pain that follows trauma, such as a car accident
“Do recognize that back pain is more common as we age,” said Dr. Christopher Sliva of Rockford Spine Center. “We lose muscle mass as we get older, which is why developing a regular exercise routine and maintaining a healthy diet can help strengthen our muscles and core strength, as well as keep our bones healthy.”
Also pay close attention to your extremities – your legs and arms, in particular. If you experience pain, numbness or tingling, be sure to consult a doctor. Weakness or instability in your legs can also be a sign of a more severe problem.
At Rockford Spine Center, we treat both surgical and nonsurgical spinal disorders. We offer the latest treatment options starting with the least-invasive approach first. Noninvasive options – including physical therapy, pain medications, muscle relaxants, exercise, lifestyle modifications and pain injections – are always explored first.
You might be surprised, but only 10 percent of our patients require surgery. If surgery is necessary, our physicians use the least-invasive techniques that will provide the most effective results. Minimally invasive procedures are available for many conditions such as herniated discs and pinched nerves.
Minimally invasive surgery allows patients to experience less pain and blood loss than traditional surgery; incisions are small, recovery times are fast and oftentimes, patients can return home the same day as surgery. Patients are able to get back to their everyday activities within a few weeks. “Whenever our patients hear this, they get an incredible look of relief on their faces,” said Dr. Michael Roh.
“Patients don’t need to leave Rockford for comprehensive, world-class spine care,” said Dr. Fred Sweet. “We have great relationships with area physicians and primary care doctors who trust us when their patients need a higher, more specialized level of care. Individuals can come to us for everything from diagnosis to treatment under one roof.”