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Back Pain: New Triggers and New Treatments

Do you suffer from middle back pain? Or pain in any part of your back? You are not alone; in any 3-month period, 1 in 4 adults in the United States suffers from at least one day of back pain. Many people experience a decrease in quality of life by not being able to participate in activities of daily living.

At Miologi, our focus is to bring you the most up-to-date and reliable information on the myriad of conditions that can cause one pain. Bringing you reliable information regarding relief strategies and pain management is the focus of our group of knowledgeable professionals.

Back Pain Overview

According to Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, in the United States, back pain is the leading cause of missed work days and limitations at work. Back pain is also the 6th most costly health condition in the United States. With those statistics, it is not surprising that back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

When one thinks of back pain, they often think of injury as a cause, but the truth is, the origins of back pain are many, including:

  • Disc Degeneration
  • Various Diseases
  • Infections
  • Inherited Conditions
  • Muscle or Ligament Strain
  • Bulging or Ruptured Discs
  • Skeletal Irregularities

These are only just a few causes of back pain. Back pain is also a broad term, back pain comes in many forms as well, it can be acute (lasting days to weeks) or chronic (lasting six months or more). Types of back pain include:

  • Muscle Ache
  • Shooting Pain
  • Stabbing Pain
  • Dull or Achy contained to Low Back
  • Stinging or Burning (moves from the low back to back of thighs, Sciatica)

Wherever you have back pain, whether it is in your upper back, middle back pain, or in your lower back, pain is involved. Correctly diagnosing the location as well as the cause can help with treatment.

Diagnosis

A doctor may order different tests to accurately diagnose the cause of your back pain, including:

  • X-rays- can show problems with the bony structures of your spine

  • MRI or CT Scan- can indicate problems with soft tissue damage such as herniated disc

  • EMG (electromyogram)- can detect nerve and muscle damage

Back Pain Myths

Now that we have covered conditions that can cause back pain, types of pain, and diagnostic tools; there are also many myths about back pain that people believe to be true. Some myths can cause harm, and you should consult a doctor if you have any questions.

  • Bed rest is the best cure for back pain. FALSE, sedentary lifestyles play a significant role in back pain. Sitting puts 40-90% more stress on your back than when standing.
  • Exercise is bad for back pain. FALSE, Regular exercise prevents back pain, and doctors recommend light exercise for those who have recently hurt their back.
  • Slipped discs are always painful. FALSE, many people have slipped discs and experience no pain.
  • Herniated discs always need surgery. FALSE, More than 90% of herniated discs heal on their own with short rest or conservative treatments

Back Pain Treatments

After completing your medical history and ordering the appropriate diagnostic tests, your doctor will select the proper course of treatment for your situation. Most often, conservative treatments will be the first plan of attack. Many conservative treatments can be performed at home.

At Home Treatments

  • OTC Anti-Inflammatories and Pain Relievers
  • Ice Packs
  • Heating Pad
  • Maintaining Good Posture
  • TENS Unit

As you can manage your upper, lower, and middle back pain, you can add activities to your daily life, like:

  • Light Exercise
  • Physical Therapy
  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Yoga
  • Massage

Medication

Prescription pain medication, and/or muscle relaxers may be added to the treatment plan if pain persists. If after all other conservative treatment plans have failed, a physician may refer a patient to a specialist.

Surgery

A specialist can determine if there is an underlying condition or defect that may be a factor in a patient’s back pain. Based on their findings, other options for treatment, including surgery, may be recommended. 

Surgery may be necessary for specific situations and conditions. However, there are also a few treatments that can be highly effective and performed in an outpatient surgery center allowing the patient to return home the same day.

Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS Implants) SCS implants are placed under general or local anesthetic in an outpatient surgery center. Two leads (flexible wires) are placed under the skin next to the spine; which, are then connected to a small device implanted under the skin usually just above the buttocks near your belt line.

The stimulator sends small pulses of mild electric current through the leads placed near your spine next to specific nerves. The pulses of electric current interrupt the pain signals, thus, masking the pain signals that travel to your brain.

SCS is a recommendation for people suffering from pain in the lower back and legs. It is important to note that SCS does not correct what is causing the pain; it only changes the way your brain perceives the pain.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Radiofrequency Ablation is carried out under local anesthetic. Under Fluoroscopy, a thin needle, much like a catheter, is inserted where the pain is felt. 

A microelectrode is then inserted through the needle while the patient is asked if they feel a tingling sensation, which helps the doctor locate the precise area for treatment. A slight radiofrequency current is sent through the microelectrode to heat the nerve tissue, thus, destroying the nerve fibers responsible for sending pain messages to the brain.

Final Remarks

With back pain being the leading cause of disability worldwide, there will always be a market for life-changing breakthrough treatments, and there will always be patients there ready to give them a shot. Stress and back pain often go hand in hand. Let us relieve some of the stress by bringing you essential information and supporting you in your pain management journey.

It is with all of you that suffer from pain in mind that all of us at Miologi dedicate our time and resources to bring you the best information on pain relief.