Back pain is inevitable for all, just like death and taxes. But not all patients with low back pain will require surgery. On the contrary, >95% of all back pains are managed conservatively with rest, medication and some form of physical therapy. In general, back pain of benign nature tends to minimize and disappear within 2 weeks, similar in fashion to an ankle sprain. However, there are conditions where back pain is a manifestation of a more serious disease process.
Consulting a Orthopedic Spine Specialist may be worthwhile in the following 7 conditions:
1. Back pain after fall/accident
2. Back pain with a spinal deformity
3. Back pain in a child or adolescent
4. Back pain that is worse at night
5. Back pain with pain radiation to the head or extremity (1 or all 4)
6. Back pain with any extremity numbness and/or weakness or paralysis
7. Back pain persisting for more that 2 weeks
Back pain after an accident such as a fall, especially an elderly person, may indicate a spinal fracture. Oftentimes, a spinal deformity occurs after a fracture of the spine. Many spinal fractures where the integrity of the spinal column is preserved are treated with a brace which worn externally. There are a few spine fractures and dislocations that are unstable and threaten to injure the spinal cord and nerves, which may paralyze a person. Spinal fusion surgery to stabilize the spinal column may be done to relieve back pain and preserve and protect the spinal cord and nerves.
Back pain in a child or adolescent is very uncommon and if present, requires evaluation by a Spine Surgeon. If there is an associated spinal deformity, like scoliosis and if the deformity is progressing, oftentimes, spinal fusion surgery to stop progression of these curves is necessary.
Back pain that’s severe enough to wake a person up in the middle of the night is ominous and warrants evaluation by a Spine Specialist. This pattern of pain may mean an infection or a tumor affecting the spinal column and the sooner the diagnosis is established, the sooner the cure can be administered. It is also possible to take a sample from the diseased portion of the spinal column for analysis.
Back pain associated with pain radiating elsewhere in the body, like the back of the any or all of these signs, it may mean an injury to the joints of the spinal column, the intervertebral discs and the nerves are compressed or pinched. This condition is also known as a “Slipped Disc” and can happen after activities like prolonged sitting, repetitive bending or lifting and can also cause extremity weakness or numbness if the nerves are severely compressed. If a person has disabling pain from the condition, nerve decompression can be helpful in relief of pain.
Back pain persisting for more than 2 weeks warrants consultation with a Spine Specialist who will be more than willing to assess and give you information on the source of pain (whether spinal or not!) and offer various options of treatment for pain, surgical and non surgical.
The Orthopedic Spine Surgeons of Asian Hospital and Medical Center are experts in evaluating and treating patients with back pain.
To consult our doctors for further information, email at email@example.com.