What is the definition of chronic pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than several months without showing signs of decreasing.

For many adults, chronic pain is related to a spine condition that develops in the neck or back and can gradually worsen over time. Without the proper treatment, this pain may eventually prevent a person from enjoying daily activities or hobbies and can interfere with relationships and work.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause. There are several factors that can cause continued pain in the neck or back, and diagnosing the source of your pain can help you find the right treatment for relief.

Causes of chronic pain

Chronic pain near the spine may be a result of nerve compression, which means a nerve in the spinal column has been constricted. This compression can be caused by a range of degenerative spine conditions, such as:

  • Spinal stenosis. This is the narrowing of the canal that surrounds the spinal cord, or the narrowing of the openings through which nerve roots exit the spine.
  • Bone spurs. Brought about by bone-on-bone contact within spinal joints, these excess growths can impinge upon spinal nerves.
  • Bulging or herniated discs. When a disc deteriorates, it can bulge or tear open, causing pressure on nearby nerves.

Many of these conditions develop as the spine naturally ages and wears down. For this reason, pain that results from these conditions may worsen over time without treatment.

Finding lasting relief from chronic pain

Once your doctor determines the cause of your chronic pain, you can work together to find the best treatment for your needs. Typically, you will be recommended to begin with nonsurgical conservative treatments for pain relief. These can include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medications
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Exercise

For many patients, conservative treatment effectively relieves the pain and symptoms of a spine condition after several months. However, if you are still in pain after this period, your physician may recommend you consider spine surgery.

Minimally invasive alternatives

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Our minimally invasive spine surgery is designed to help treat the most common spine conditions by removing the damaged portion of the spine that is compressing the nerve and causing your pain. By using muscle-sparing techniques, these procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, leading to a reduced risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.