Back Pain Overview

Back pain is one of the most common reasons individuals visit a doctor. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of people world-wide experience back pain at some point in their life. Half of the world’s population experience back pain at least once a year. Chronic back pain is not always caused by an underlying disease, but can be from overuse, too much exercise, sleeping in an uncomfortable positions and other muscle-related reasons. Back pain can come and go, but when it becomes severe and interrupts daily activities, it is time to seek an orthopedic spine specialist. At BICMD our “Best in Class” surgeons and specialists can give you an expert diagnosis as well as treatment options through our orthopedic telemedicine platform. If you are looking for a second opinion, you have found the best doctors in the industry, here at BICMD and can use our state-of-the art telemedicine platform for your back pain options.

What is the difference between chronic and acute back pain?

Back pain is classified by either chronic or acute. Acute back pain is a strain or sprain of the soft tissues in the back. These can include muscles, tendons and ligaments. Acute back pain can occur after lifting a heavy object incorrectly or over-exercising; it is considered acute when the pain lasts for less than a month. Chronic back pain is pain that has lasted more than three months and can be caused by any number of injuries or conditions. Individuals who have back pain that lasts more than three days, especially if severe, needs to see a physician or consult with one of our experts at BICMD.

What causes chronic back pain?

Any number of problems can affect the back due to its complex structure. Chronic neck and back pain can be caused by:

  • Tendonitis or tendinopathy – Both cause back and neck pain: Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon. Tendinopathy is a degeneration of the collagen protein that forms the actual tendon.
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative Conditions including disc disease  – The gradual loss of normal structure and function of the spine over time.
  • Herniated or bulging disc
    • Cervical disc herniation – Can cause neck pain and pain in the shoulders, shoulder blade and even numbness and tingling in the hands arms.
    • Lumbar disc herniation  – Causes pain in the lower back, buttocks and can radiate pain down one or both legs. Severe lumbar disc herniation that causes foot-drop will require immediate medical care.
  • Spinal Stenosis
    • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – Narrowing of the spinal canal which can put pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
    • Cervical Spinal Stenosis – Myelopathy Narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck, if left untreated, can result in Myelopathy or an injury to the spinal cord.
  • Scoliosis – A “C” or “S” curve in the spine.
  • Spinal cord injury

How is acute and chronic back pain diagnosed?

The back pain experts at BICMD begin the diagnosis for acute and chronic back pain with a thorough patient history. The patient’s symptoms and their severity will help determine the diagnostic testing that may be needed.  One or more of the following tests can help properly diagnose your back pain:

  • MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to see detailed images inside the body.
  • CT Scan – Computerized Tomography – Uses computers and a rotating x-ray machine to see cross-sections within the body.
  • X-ray – Shows the bones and can be a “first step” in diagnosing the cause of back pain

What is the treatment for acute and chronic back pain?

The recommended treatment for acute and chronic back pain will vary greatly depending upon symptoms, severity and if there is a spinal condition that needs to be addressed. In general, acute back pain does not need surgery and most cases resolve relatively quickly. Patients are advised to rest, but only for a day or two. It is not recommended that patients remain in bed, as it can make symptoms worse. Over the counter pain medication, muscle relaxers, hot and cold therapy, or working with a physical therapist can help relieve pain.

Back pain that is chronic or has an underlying condition, such as a herniated disc or degenerative joint disease have varying treatment options. It is important to obtain an expert opinion from one of our “Best in Class” back and spine experts at BICMD before undergoing any kind of surgical treatment. Depending on your diagnosis, they may recommend one of the following treatments for chronic back pain:

  • Spinal Injections  – Highly effective for immediate relief of back pain.
    • Fluoroscopic/x-ray-guided epidural injections
    • Facet joint injections
    • Medial branch block – radiofrequency denervation
  • Sacroiliac joint injections
  • Disc Replacement
    • Cervical Disc Replacement – Replaces the damaged disc. New methods and materials maintain the flexibility of the cervical vertebrae.
  • Lumbar Laminectomy – Creates space in the lumbar canal of the spine and relieves pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Cervical Laminoplasty – Relieves pressure on the spinal cord in the neck by reshaping or repositioning the bones in the neck.
  • Lumbar Microdiscectomy
  • Lumbar Fusion – Fuses two or more bones together and is designed to stop the motion of the painful vertebral segment.

No one should have to live with back and neck pain. Today’s advancements in orthopedic spine care have made it possible for many to live a pain-free life while maintaining full neck and back function. A consultation with one of neck and back experts is the first step on your path to complete recovery. Let us discuss the options that will work for you and your specific type of neck and back pain.

For more information about chronic back pain and acute back pain as well as the different treatments you should consider, or to receive an expert consultation about your back and neck pain, please contact our specialists, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.