According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the American Chiropractic Association, an estimated 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Fortunately, the solution is rarely surgery. Back pain has many causes, but it can usually be reversed with low impact fitness, core strengthening, improvement in posture, gait mechanics and lifestyle changes.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Age, physical fitness level, obesity, recreational activities and stress are all factors that can increase your risk of developing back pain. The most common causes of back pain are age-related spinal conditions.
The most common age-related spinal conditions are:
• Spinal stenosis: a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord
• Lumbar radiculopathy: a compressed nerve in the lower back
• Cervical radiculopathy: a compressed nerve in the neck
Back pain can also be caused by spinal deformities, which are conditions that affect the curvature of the spine, such as scoliosis. Additional causes include injuries, such as a fractured vertebrae or a ruptured disk.
When to See a Doctor for Back Pain
Back pain can be mild and will often resolve on its own. But in more severe cases, it can be debilitating. The intensity of the pain and how long you have been experiencing it can help determine when to see a doctor. See a doctor for your back pain if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Back pain accompanied with night sweats, fever or chills, which could be a sign of infection and requires immediate medical attention
- Unrelenting back pain that is not relieved with anti-inflammatory medications
- Back pain that radiates through the arms or legs with numbness or tingling
- Back pain for longer than six weeks
Most People With Back Pain Do Not Need Surgery
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to back pain, which is why a comprehensive spine care program will offer you the most options for relief. A comprehensive program includes experts in operative and nonoperative treatments, including pain management, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical therapy, chiropractic care, orthopaedic surgery and medical-based wellness.
Surgery is rarely the first treatment choice. Unless you have a tumor, an infection, a serious spinal cord injury or progressive neurological decline, surgery is usually not necessary. In my two decades of practice as an orthopaedic spine surgeon, I have seen how much impact a sedentary lifestyle and deconditioning has on spine health. Experts in a comprehensive spine care program give people the tools they need to reduce their pain and improve their function over time. Proper posture, gait mechanics, low impact fitness and spine strengthening exercises combined with pain management techniques help most people find relief.
Back Pain Care and Treatment Doctors
Richard Manos, MD, is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic spine surgeon. He has more than 25 years of experience as an educator and spine specialist. His surgical expertise includes spinal deformity, minimally invasive and complex spinal revision surgery. He spent 16 years in the U.S. Navy. Dr. Manos sees patients at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sheboygan North Taylor Clinic and HFM Harbor Town Campus.
To schedule an appointment with the Spine Care team, call 920-320-5241.