Back pain in Tampa, FL
Back Pain affected nearly 30% of Americans in the last quarter of 2019, according to surveys. That same percentage of men report that lower back pain has affected their ability to work. Women report effects that are not much lower, with 20% of women expressing that back pain has impaired their capacity for physical activity. These numbers make us even more excited about the work we do in our Tampa minimally invasive spine surgery center.
What causes back pain?
Back pain can range from a minor, temporary nuisance to a debilitating problem. Because there are multiple conditions that could result in back or neck pain, it is critical to monitor symptoms and see a doctor if they persist for more than a week or two. Causes of back pain include:
- Strains and spasms resulting from specific activities.
- Poor posture.
- Bulging discs placing pressure on one or more nerve roots.
- Ruptured discs compressing one or more nerve roots.
- Osteoarthritis and resulting spinal stenosis.
- Sciatica, which causes sharp, shooting pain through the buttock and down the back of one leg. This condition is often caused by a herniated or bulging disc.
- Osteoporosis, in which brittle and fragile bones may fracture.
- Abnormal curvature of the spine, which causes muscles to tense and may compress various nerve roots.
- Kidney problems. Back pain is sometimes caused by kidney infection or kidney stones.
What are the different types of back pain?
Back pain can feel different for every person, regardless of the underlying cause. Some people who develop a herniated disc experience excruciating pain while others feel only mild aching. In the same way, a minor muscle strain could cause subtle pain, if any, in one person but severe pain for another.
For the most part, back and neck pain result from either the muscle tissue around the spine or the nerve roots that exit the spine. A large number of back pain cases involve issues like a herniated or degenerative disc that is compressing a nerve root. This type of back pain may feel like localized aching or spasms or radiating pain down an arm or a leg. Back pain may be categorized as:
- Axial pain, which is localized to one region. Axial pain may be dull or sharp, constant and throbbing or an intermittent ache.
- Referred pain is often felt as a dull ache that moves from one area to another. Referred pain could result from a degenerative disc that is felt away from the spine, such as the thighs or hips.
- Radicular pain travels along a nerve path and may feel like burning or an electric shock. Pain may radiate down an arm or a leg as a result of compression or inflammation around a nerve root.
What are the common symptoms of back pain?
The symptoms of back pain range from acute, severe throbbing or burning to recurring or persistent aching, stabbing, and limited range of motion. Back pain may worsen with prolonged standing or sitting or with certain motions, such as bending or twisting. Medical care should be sought when back pain persists for more than 2 weeks, is severe, or causes weakness, tingling, or numbness in an arm or a leg.
How is back pain usually treated?
Patients should understand that doctors do not recommend surgery as a first-line treatment for back pain unless a severe condition is impairing bladder or bowel function or affecting quality of life. A thorough consultation, exam, and medical history are performed, along with necessary imaging, to diagnose the cause of back pain so appropriate treatment can be planned. Common treatment options for back pain include:
- Over-the-counter medication
- Topical pain relievers
- Muscle relaxant medication
- Prescription narcotic pain relievers for temporary, acute pain
- Physical therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
How can I prevent back pain?
Several strategies to prevent back pain have been suggested by experts in medicine and fitness. These include:
- Exercise regularly. Core strengthening exercises are particularly beneficial for back support. Regular exercise also fosters optimal circulation, which oxygenates tissues in the spinal column and it helps maintain weight to prevent excess stress on the spine.
- Do not smoke. Smoking inhibits the delivery of nutrient-rich blood to all areas of the body, including the spine.
- Talk to a doctor about sleeping position. People who are prone to back pain may do better in a side-sleeping position with a pillow between the legs.
- Be mindful of posture. Both standing and sitting postures can affect the spine and surrounding muscles. Chairs should have adequate low back support. When standing or sitting, the head should be kept straight and shoulders back.
- Lift with care. Heavy objects are a source of a significant number of back pain cases. When lifting, bend at the knees, not the hips.
- Don’t sit on a wallet. People who place their wallet in their back pocket are more prone to back pain due to the imbalance of their seated posture.
When should I seek a medical professional for my back pain?
Back pain is common after an injury such as an auto accident or fall. In these instances, it may not be necessary to seek medical attention unless pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as numbness or tingling. After an injury, acute back pain may diminish over a week or two. If pain persists beyond that point, or if back or neck pain recurs every few weeks or months, it is beneficial to consult with a specialist. Keep in mind that most doctors do not recommend surgery before other, more conservative therapies have been tried.
Schedule a consultation
Back pain is a source of diminished quality of life. It doesn’t have to be. To learn more about Dr. Watson’s minimally-invasive and conservative pain management procedure for back pain, contact our Tampa office at (813) 920-3022.