Expert Health Articles

My Achy, Breaky…Back

Back pain, whether in the neck or lower back, has become ubiquitous. The National Institute of Health estimate that 80 percent of all Americans have suffered from back pain at some point in their lives, and the number of adults whose life is markedly affected continues to grow.

Many will be familiar with the feelings of a stiff, sore back after a wrong twist, a bad bend or an intensive workout. These pains are usually musculoskeletal in origin and will heal over time with rest, ice/heat and over-the-counter medications. However, chronic back pain, or the type of pain that persists for more than three months, typically has different origins. While the reasons for these aches abound, many patients are unaware that there are several treatment options available to decrease their pain, restore functionality and improve their quality of life.

Both neck and lower back pain are often a result of degenerative or arthritic changes in the spine. While these terms may sound intimidating, these changes are commonly a product of time, as they become more prevalent with age. These specific types of pain may be accompanied by radiating pain, numbness or tingling into the arms or legs, respectively.

At times, these pains may be so severe or debilitating that they require surgery. However, many causes of pain may be treated with less invasive procedures by a pain management specialist. These interventions are very safe, do not require a hospital stay, and allow for the patient to walk out the door shortly after the procedure. With the growing concern about the long-term consequences of opioid medications, these interventions are an increasingly appealing therapy for the appropriate patient.

As an added benefit, the pain relief achievable with a procedure may help patients discontinue the use of other medications used for pain. Patients should be advocates for their health and well-being, so explore with your primary care physician whether you would benefit from evaluation.

Andrius Giedraitis, MD

Blanchard Valley Pain Management