Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both men and women in the U.S., causing considerable discomfort and debility. Many issues can cause or contribute to back pain, including:
The back comprises joints, bones, and soft and connective tissues and any of these can become injured. Prior to treatment, a thorough exam will be performed to determine the cause of painful symptoms so the most appropriate care can be provided.
Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient's symptoms and an in-depth medical history to look for risk factors for diseases, followed by a comprehensive examination of the back. Depending on the symptoms, passive and active exercises and stretches may be used to help pinpoint the cause of pain. Diagnostic imaging like x-rays and MRI can also be very helpful, and when nerve impingement or other nerve or vertebral problems are suspected, facet joint injections can be useful in identifying which nerves and bones are causing symptoms. These injections use pain relievers injected into precise locations to identify specific sources of pain.
Treatment for back pain will depend on the underlying cause of symptoms. Many types of back pain are caused by nerve compression caused by “slipped” discs, spinal stenosis or similar conditions. In these instances, pain and inflammation usually can be relieved with injections into or around the joint space or with nerve block injections to interrupt nerve pathways responsible for pain. Oral pain medications and physical therapy can also help restore strength and flexibility throughout the back. In a few instances when these conservative options aren't effective in achieving relief, surgery may be needed to stabilize the spine or correct underlying problems.
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