Remedies to help you get “back” to living pain free
If you’ve ever said, “Oh, my aching back,” you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 8 out of 10 people will suffer from some type of back pain at some point in their lives.
Living with chronic back pain can interfere with normal daily activities and impede on your quality of life. But thanks to the back and spine specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland (OACM), back pain can soon be a thing of the past.
As men and women age, back pain is a common ailment caused by a number of factors such as:
- Muscle, ligament, nerve and spine injury
- Degenerative joint diseases such as arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated discs
- Slipped vertebrae (spondylolisthesis)
- Stress fracture of the spine (spondylolysis)
- Poor posture during movements like heavy lifting or sitting at a desk
Treating Back Pain
Non-surgical treatment options such as medication therapy are typically explored first to treat and
alleviate back pain. Before deciding on any course of action, your physician will run a number of
diagnostic tests and perform an exam to determine the cause of your back pain. Once a diagnosis is made,
your othopaedic surgeon will discuss all of the viable options and develop a treatment plan that is right
Pain Management and Rehabilitative Medicine
Treating chronic back pain can be done through a variety of pain management and rehabilitative techniques
depending on the cause of the pain and underlying conditions. Physicians at OACM take an individualized
approach to treatment with the goals being pain relief and restored mobility.
According to Timothy Yoon, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist at OACM, rehabilitative
medicine is, for all intents and purposes, non-operative care. “This can include medication to treat
symptoms, physical therapy to help recondition muscles that help support the spine, and non-surgical
procedures such as injections to help deal with inflammation at different structures in the spine,” he
He adds that choosing the best treatment option depends on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. For
individuals suffering from disc herniation with associated pain, Dr. Yoon explains that most patients
will get better with just medication and/or physical therapy. In more severe cases, oral steroids to
decrease inflammation can sometimes be enough to calm down symptoms. If symptoms still persist, two
classes of medications – antidepressants and anti-seizure – are used to treat nerve-related pain. “If these
measures don’t work, a lumbar epidural injection (spine injection putting an anti-inflammatory with a
numbing medication along the path of the nerve root that is being pinched by the disc herniation) is the
next step,” he explains. “If all of the above doesn’t work, then we start considering surgery.”
Surgery for Back Pain
Back surgery is most commonly done only after a variety of non-surgical treatments have been tried but
failed. According to Oren Blam, MD, orthopaedic spine surgeon at OACM, severe, persisting back and/or leg
pain with occasional numbness and weakness may require surgery.
“Back surgery typically involves taking pressure off spinal nerves (by removing bone spurs, disk
herniation, or thickened ligament) and sometimes stabilizing the spine,” explains Dr. Blam. Spinal
decompression surgeries include laminectomy, discectomy, and others. “Spinal stabilization surgery is
most commonly a fusion, which can be done in several different ways. Sometimes, spinal deformities like
scoliosis or spondylolisthesis can also be reduced and stabilized. Broken vertebrae sometimes require
surgery with a fusion or sometimes a less invasive cement injection procedure called kyphoplasty,”
Dr. Blam explains that spinal surgery can greatly alleviate pain in the neck, back, arms, and legs.
“Surgery can restore nerve function, leading to better strength and balance. Risks of surgery always
need to be considered, but most common complications can be avoided by proper preoperative management
and perioperative care,” he says.
For more information about back pain and treatment options, visit the Orthopaedic Associates of Central
Maryland website at www.mdbonedocs.com or call 866-927-1338.