Back Pain: An Introduction

Lower back pain can result from a wide array of illnesses and injuries. Symptoms often change with time. Treatments are myriad. Finding the cause of your back pain is critical if treatment is to prove effective. We at Schlesinger Pain Centers have the experience to sort out the symptoms, make order out of the options and get you on the road to recovery.

Lower back pain is one of the most common pain conditions in America and the leading cause of long-term disability. It affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. Low back pain can result from trauma, infection, tumors or simply degenerative processes associated with aging. As with most pain clinics, low back pain is the most common condition we see here at Schlesinger Pain Centers.

The most critical step in treating low back pain is making a precise and accurate diagnosis. While nonspecific treatments may get a 20 year old through his fist bout of back pain, it will rarely be effective in older patients or chronic pain cases. Most causes of lower back pain will fall into one of two broad categories, axial where the pain is largely confined to the back and radicular where the pain travels or radiates to another part of the body, most commonly either the buttocks or the leg.

Common causes for axial back pain include, disk disease, facet joint arthropathy, sacro-iliac joint arthritis as well as a number of myofascial pain syndromes. While lumbar disc disease is by far the most common cause of radicular low back pain a significant number of cases will result from spinal stenosis, foramenal stenosis, synovial cysts, lumbar polynueropathies, lumbar plexopathies, arachnoiditis and failed back syndrome, many of which will require different forms of treatment.

Treatment of low back pain can include traction, physical therapy, medical management, epidural steroid injections, neuroablative procedures and neuromodulation. The choice will depend on the underlying cause of the pain, the acuity or chronicity of the pain and the estimated stability of the spine. It is important to remember that the treatment of two different patients with the same type of pain is likely to be different and the treatment of lower back pain in any given individual may change substantially over time.

In cases where conservative measures fail or when the stability of the spine has been compromised, surgery may be the best option. Knowing when to advise surgery and helping patients choose between the many different types of surgical techniques now available requires many years of experience. Patients rarely want to hear about surgery, but I always remind them that while you never want to have too much surgery, you don’t want to have too little surgery either. We at Schlesinger Pain Centers are proud of the relationships we have developed over the years some of the finest spine surgeons in Los Angeles and have fortunate to have seen very favorable results.

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