Chronic back pain: diagnosis and treatment

Chronic back pain is considered to be any type of back pain that lasts longer than three months. For many patients suffering from this type of pain, basic treatments like rest, over-the-counter medication and hot/cold compression have been attempted without bringing lasting relief.

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, you understand the frustration of not being able to perform the activities you once enjoyed — simple activities like walking, gardening or playing golf — and not being able to find a treatment that relieves your pain. The following information about diagnosing and treating chronic back pain can help you to work more closely with your doctor or specialist to find treatments that work best for you.

Diagnosing spinal conditions

There are many causes of back pain, but when symptoms become chronic, the underlying cause often turns out to be a degenerative spine condition like a herniated disc or osteoarthritis. The lumbar (lower) region of the spine is put under immense pressure on a day-to-day basis, which combined with age-related changes to our anatomy, can lead to damage that can cause painful compression and irritation of surrounding nerves.

If you have been suffering from persistent back pain, it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Along with a physical evaluation and review of symptoms and medical history, the following tests can be performed to find the underlying cause of your pain:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Discography
  • Blood tests

Creating an effective treatment plan depends on a variety of factors, such as the specific condition, severity of pain, your current state of health and the treatments you’ve already attempted. It is important to be patient and expect some degree of trial and error to find the right combination of therapies that works for you. More advanced treatment options can include epidural steroid injections, physical therapy and lifestyle changes like following a weight-loss or smoking cessation plan.

When to consider surgery for chronic back pain

If you and your doctor have agreed that conservative treatment options have been fully exhausted and your chronic pain and other symptoms are still disrupting your life, you may be asked to consider surgery. Laser Spine Institute and our team of board-certified surgeons+ provide minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open back procedures. By using muscle-sparing techniques we are able to perform our procedures on an outpatient basis and with a less than 1-inch incision.

To learn more about the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our caring team can help you receive a no-cost review of your CT scan or MRI* to help determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.