Health & Wellness

Back pain- Causes and treatment

Back pain, 21st century epidemic
Authors: Dr Saurabh Verma, Dr Hamza Shaikh

Back pain is the most common cause of work related disability. 80% of people experience back pain at some point in their lives. With increasing sedentary lifestyle and ever-expanding aging population, back pain has become the most common reason to visit a primary physician and it does not refer to any specific disease, instead it is a common symptom produced by the variety of underlying processes.

For the purpose of patient education, back pain can be divided into three types: Acute back pain, chronic back pain and back pain with red flag signs. Acute back pain refers to sprains or strains of back muscles due to sudden movements or poor body mechanics while lifting heavy objects.

Acute back pain usually settles down within a few days to a week and may require a short course of rest, analgesic/pain medications and physiotherapy. Another category is chronic back pain, which refers to pain which lasts more than 3 months.This group of patients require an evaluation by the doctor, who may ask for some basic tests such as X Ray or an MRI to identify the cause of back pain.

Mechanical/degenerative or inflammatory diseases are a common cause of chronic back pain and in most instances they are treated by non-operative measures such as anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy and spinal injections and a small number of patients who are not improving with such measures may also require surgical intervention.

The third category of back pain is associated with red flag signs which call attention for an urgent evaluation by the doctor. Some red flags include:

Fracture: associated with significant trauma or senile osteoporosis or patient on chronic steroid therapy
Spinal infection: back pain associated with fever, urinary infection
● Cancer: Patient with a history of cancer treatment or unexplained significant
weight loss.
Back pain associated with radicular leg pain.
Cauda equina syndrome: Loss of bladder-bowel control or significant motor or
sensory loss or loss of sensations in buttock.
Back pain developing in children below the age of 15 years or sudden back pain
in elderly patients.

We are going to throw more light on this topic by going live with two Doctor’s from Manipal hospital on our Instagram page @prettylilthingss1

Dr. Saurabh Verma
Dr. Hamza Shaikh

Treatment options for back pain:

Non- surgical: As mentioned earlier, acute back pain are self limiting managed
by short course of pain medications, physiotherapy and chronic back pain requires evaluation by X rays and MRI if needed and managed accordingly. Majority of them are managed by non-surgical methods such as physiotherapy, spinal injections and adopting a more active life-style and habit of daily exercise, yoga or brisk walking. If pain is not settling down, patients may require surgical intervention.

Psychological evaluation: for stress and depression is often required for patients with chronic back pain if all radiological evaluations are negative, as it has been shown to manifest as back pain or at least modulate the chronicity of pain.

Spinal injections-pain management: useful non operative armamentarium to manage back pain arises due to Lumbar disc herniation (sciatica/disc prolapse), canal stenosis, sacroiliitis, facet arthropathy.

Surgery: A large number of surgical interventions options are available ranging from traditional open procedures of decompression and fusion to more minimally invasive procedures such as microdiscectomy, endoscopic discectomy,vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty, minimally invasive TLIF, OLIF, XLIF instrumented fusion techniques. More complex procedures such as scoliosis,kyphosis deformity correction or tumour excision depending upon the pathology.


Is spine surgery really required for back pain?

Majority of patients with back pain as mentioned earlier do not require surgery, however, a small percentage of patients eventually require surgical intervention if their symptoms are not settling down with the non operative measures or if patients found to have red flag signs(most of them). In the 21st century, with better technology and better trained spine surgeons, the success rate of spine surgery has improved considerably with significantly reduced complication rate. Myth of every patient becoming paralysed or permanently disabled after spine surgery does not hold true in today’s world. Measure to prevent back pain

Smoking, obesity, stress, sedentary lifestyle, poor sitting posture are the important risk factors of chronic back pain. Inculcating a healthy and active lifestyle is essential to prevent back pain, which includes no smoking and a habit of daily walking, exercise or yoga to strengthen the back and core muscles.

Disclaimer – Images used in this article are NOT my property and have been used ONLY for the sole purpose of a reference **

This is a personal blog that chronicles my own experiences. Readers must take proper medical advice (if any discussed above) before trying anything at home. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not considered to be a review or a recommendation.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah T (@prettylilthingss1 ) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

12 thoughts on “Back pain- Causes and treatment”

  1. beautifully written and explained. we dont need a surgery always. mot times medicines and care helps. Thanks for sharing.

    Utpal Khot

  2. Great coverage of a concern we have in so much of our lives caused but multiple concerns . Its great that you have managed to research and concentrate all this valuable information for constant reference for us all.

  3. Thanks for sharing this informative blog. If you’ve tried other treatments first, then only surgeon will only recommend back surgery.

  4. As you mentioned, all of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives. I think mainly because of our working lifestyle. Thanks for these treatment methods. I had done my research when I was suggested a surgery when I did not even have a severe pain. And that’s when it becomes so important to know the things that you have written. Thanks for the article.

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