Chronic low back pain

Many people suffer from chronic lower back pain. In fact, most adults over the age of 60 have experienced some degree of lower back pain in their lifetime. This is because the lower back is prone to developing degenerative spine conditions caused by normal wear and tear over time.

While chronic lower back pain may be common, many people feel alone when suffering through the pain and symptoms caused by spine conditions in the lumbar spine (lower back). If you are burdened with chronic lower back pain, you understand that these symptoms can sometimes be unbearable, preventing you from enjoying your daily activities and sometimes even limiting your daily mobility.

If you have been enduring lower back pain for several weeks or more, we encourage you to consult your physician or one of our spine care specialists about the cause of your pain and the treatment options available to you. You can schedule an appointment with your physician or send our specialists a copy of your MRI report to diagnose your condition. Once the cause of your pain has been determined, you can begin to move forward on your journey to pain relief.

Diagnosing chronic lower back pain

Most degenerative spine conditions develop in the lumbar spine, which is categorized as five vertebrae called L1 to L5 (although some people have six lumbar vertebrae). This region makes up the lower back and is responsible for allowing the body to twist, bend and stand straight. Because the lumbar is the bottom portion of the spine, it naturally holds the majority of the body’s weight. For this reason, the lumbar spine is prone to compression and the natural deterioration of the aging process.

Between each vertebra in the spine is a disc, which is a gel-like pad that acts as a “shock absorber” for the spine’s movement. As we age, pressure increases on the vertebrae and the discs are squeezed, causing them to herniate or bulge. Many problems that induce chronic back pain can arise from disc weakness. Other possible contributing factors are poor lifting techniques, improper posture, excess body weight and arthritis.

Common degenerative spine conditions that cause lower back pain include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Spondylosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bone spurs

Once you schedule an appointment with your physician, your physician can diagnose your spine condition and help you find the best treatment option for your needs. In many cases, degenerative spine conditions can be effectively treated through conservative methods, though sometimes surgery may be necessary.

Treatment options for chronic lower back pain

Conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy, yoga and pain medication, are often the first line of defense for chronic back pain. Many people find relief after just a few months of consistent treatment, though some people may take a little longer to experience pain relief.

If a conservative rehabilitation routine does not relieve your chronic low back pain, your physician may suggest surgery. There are a variety of different options for back pain surgery, including:

  • Foraminectomy — Neural pathways on either side of vertebrae are widened through the removal of bone.
  • Laminectomy — Lamina, or bony “roof” of vertebrae, is removed.
  • Spinal fusion — Two or more vertebrae permanently joined for added stability; screws or bone grafts are used.
  • Discectomy — Complete or partial removal of the damaged disc that’s causing lower back pain.

If you feel that you do want to consider surgery but the long recovery periods of traditional open back surgery may not be for you, consider Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to help treat common spine conditions that cause pain and limited mobility. Our procedures are performed through small incisions that avoid tearing the surrounding muscles and soft tissue, allowing our patients to experience a safer and effective surgery than traditional open back surgery.

For more information about our minimally invasive procedures that help our patients get back to their active lives sooner, please contact our team today.