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Why Live with Back Pain?

Why Live with Back Pain by Dr. Yolanda Scott

If you have experienced back pain, then you are in the majority. Over 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time, and more than 3 million cases of back pain are reported each year. Symptoms can occur sporadically after picking up a small item, or it can last for years with no identifiable cause. Oftentimes, the affect can be lasting and memorable. So, what are some of the causes for back pain?

As shared by OrthoAtlanta physiatrist, Yolanda Scott, MD, the three most common causes of back pain that she sees in her office are due to muscle spasms, degenerative joint disease, and herniated disc. Each condition presents with its own identifiable symptom and receives a different treatment.

Muscle spasms can occur after lifting a heavy object, or with no inciting event. Normally the patient will state that the pain is shooting up and/or across their back and the pain can be so intense that it can take their breath away.

Degenerative disease is pain that gradually increases with time; oftentimes it can be more severe in the morning. The symptoms of degenerative back pain may remain localized in one specific area of the back. Patients with back pain caused by degenerative conditions may also experience changes in their symptoms with increased barometric pressure in the atmosphere.

Back pain can also be due to disc herniations. When a disc is herniated, it can touch a nerve, causing a shooting pain down the legs. This is oftentimes referred to as sciatica, which is a misnomer, but it helps physicians quickly identify the symptom and its location on the spine.

There are several options available to help treat these conditions. Non-surgical treatment options for back pain include, but are not limited to medication management such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and muscle relaxants. Trigger point injections, which work toward relieving pain immediately while breaking up muscle spasms, are another treatment option for some cases of back pain. Interventional procedures such as nerve blocks and epidurals can also offer relief to some back-pain sufferers. Physical therapy may also be a beneficial treatment option in some instances of back pain.

It is appropriate to speak with a physician if any of these symptoms arise, so that you can obtain an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. The long-term goal is to reduce, and hopefully alleviate back pain so that one can live an independent and fully functional life.

Learn more by viewing the complete article, Why Live with Back Pain in the May 2018 issue of Chapel Hill News & Views, page 108.

Learn more about Dr. Yolanda C. Scott, physical medicine and rehabilitation, OrthoAtlanta Douglasville.

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