Chronic Low Back Pain
Why does chronic low back pain happen?
Chronic low back pain is pain in the lower back that has been present for three months or longer. There could be many different causes for low back pain, including an injury, disease, or some other problem. Oftentimes, it is very difficult to identify the specific cause of the pain. People with chronic low back pain often experience difficulty performing daily activities or work duties.
What are the symptoms of chronic low back pain?
Symptoms of chronic low back pain include:
- Pain, lasting three months or longer
- The type and severity of pain can vary from person to person, from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain
- Pain that increases with changes in activity or stress
- Weakness, numbness, and tingling
- Changes in bowel or bladder control
How is chronic low back pain diagnosed?
Because there are many different causes of low 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 chronic low back pain treated nonsurgically?
Treatment for low back pain focuses on managing the pain and restoring function with conservative care.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
What surgical treatment options are available for chronic low back pain?
If conservative treatment is ineffective, surgery may be beneficial. Surgery is reserved only for the cases where everything else has been tried or the pain is so severe that you cannot do the most basic of daily activities.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
Lumbar fusion surgery may be an option for some chronic low back pain sufferers. 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 lumbar 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 spine fusion surgery:
- Check out information on Minimally Invasive Spine Fusionsversus Spinal Fusion Surgery
- Learn how to Prepare for Spine Fusion Surgery
- Find out more on the Gold Standard in Spine 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.
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.
When we have back pain, we want to know why. Dr. Wahlquist explains that this simple question can have a complex answer.
Ask the Expert: Spine Video Series
Dr. Choi treats patients with chronic back pain, and she explains the range of nonsurgical therapies available to relieve pain.