What is back pain?
Back pain is a general term that describes the discomfort you feel from any number of activities – walking, bending over, reaching, playing sports, or even just sitting. Back pain is very common, with four out of five Americans experiencing it in their lifetimes. It can include:
What causes back pain?
Most cases of back pain are muscle-related. Muscles in the back can strain or spasm (a spontaneous contraction), forming a hard lump in much the same way a charley horse can develop in the leg. Muscle spasms can come in waves and cause excruciating pain, which is your muscle’s way of telling you it’s been pushed beyond its limits.
How is back pain diagnosed?
Because there are many different causes of back pain, your physician will review your medical history and perform a physical examination to help identify possible causes. Your doctor may also recommend diagnostic imaging, such as X-ray or MRI, to assist in diagnosing your pain.
How is back pain treated nonsurgically?
Since back pain is typically caused by a muscle injury, it’s natural to want to stop moving the injured area and wait for it to heal. However, it’s important to gently stretch and exercise the muscle to get the muscle to stop the spasm. Lying around has been proved to be counterproductive in relieving back pain.
Treatment for back pain focuses on managing the pain and restoring function with conservative care.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- Self-care, including gentle movement, application of heat or cold, and massage
What surgical treatment options are available for back pain?
Most patients find relief from their back pain without surgery. Surgery is only appropriate in a very limited number of cases where everything else has been tried or the pain is so severe that you cannot do the most basic of daily activities. Most patients who only have back pain are not surgical candidates.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
Spine fusion surgery attaches the damaged vertebral bone to an adjacent vertebral bone so that they grow together into one long bone. A fusion will reduce freedom of movement in the spine by making the fused vertebral bones immobile, but that immobility serves the purpose of reducing pain.
How spine fusion works:
- During surgery, a bone graft is added to the spine segment being fused.
- Your body grows new bony tissue over the bone graft between the two vertebral segments, fusing them together.
- When the fused bones heal, the fusion prevents movement at the joint.
More resources on fusion surgery:
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.