Diagnosis and treatment options for 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 over time.

While chronic lower back pain may be common, many people feel alone when suffering from 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 doctor or a member of our dedicated team about the cause of your pain and the treatment options available to you. You can schedule an appointment with your doctor 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, which is called a transitional vertebra. 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 the gel-like center 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 doctor, he or she 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 if you do not experience adequate relief after several weeks or months of conservative therapy.

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 doctor may suggest surgery. There are a variety of different options for back pain surgery, including:

  • Foraminectomy — where the neural pathways on either side of the vertebrae are widened through the removal of bone
  • Laminectomy — where the lamina or bony roof of the vertebrae is removed
  • Spinal fusion — where two or more vertebrae are permanently joined for added stability through the use of screws or bone grafts
  • Discectomy — which is the 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 contacting Laser Spine Institute. We offer less decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to help treat common spine conditions that cause pain and limited mobility with a lower risk of complication and no lengthy recovery compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

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 alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ For more information about our minimally invasive procedures that help our patients get back to their active lives sooner, please reach out to us today. We would be more than happy to set up a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures.