Back pain is an extremely common complaint. Low back pain, in particular, is a frequent health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 25 percent of adults experience low back pain.
It’s not a condition that’s limited by age or gender. Random pain associated with everyday activities that resolve without medical intervention is usually normal. However, many life events and health conditions can trigger pain in the back that’s difficult to manage with self-care or basic medical care alone.
Most people will experience some back pain in their lifetime. But when that pain starts to occur more frequently and becomes more uncomfortable and intolerable, it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist for relief.
Why See an Orthopedic Specialist for Back Pain?
An orthopedic surgeon is a muscle and joint pain specialist. This type of professional has advanced knowledge and training to diagnose and treat various health concerns, including those involving the muscles and bones in the back and spine.
Serious musculoskeletal injuries and disorders can occur from growing older, cumulative injuries, poor body mechanics, and other health events. These issues can cause more pain. Without proper treatment, back pain can be debilitating. Treatment by an orthopedic surgeon is often necessary and beneficial.
Back pain that aches, burns, or becomes so persistent that it influences your quality of life is a serious issue. Though you may not realize it, that type of pain is a sign that something is going on with your body that’s affecting your back health.
Pain Is a Warning Sign
Back pain may be either acute or chronic. Acute pain is common with injuries, accidents, and movement. It ranges in intensity, and no two people describe symptoms the same way. Acute back pain can be a mild, annoying sensation, or it can feel so severe that it’s hard to ignore or do anything else. There are also many unpleasant sensations in between. It can even occur from minor or chronic health conditions. Pain that comes and goes without fail for hours, only to shortly return, or pain that never really stops and tends to be resistant to general therapeutic methods, such as narcotic drugs or physical therapy, is not normal.
When your back hurts, your first thought may be to rely on standard pain treatments, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, temperature compress therapy (hot and cold packs), and rest.
Those measures may be practical at first, especially for back pain stemming from health or a musculoskeletal disorder or disease like arthritis, but their effectiveness is limited. Eventually, your body may become immune to self-care measures, your ability to move freely can be compromised, and your symptoms may become too severe to benefit from a trip to a general or primary care physician.
By the time that occurs, advanced treatment options are often necessary. Many people postpone the decision to see an orthopedic surgeon due to personal reasons, only to prolong their pain and suffering.
It’s generally okay to ignore normal types of back pain that stop within a few hours. But for pain that lasts longer than usual, returns frequently, or becomes unmanageable, advanced orthopedic treatment or spine care can be beneficial.
How Does an Orthopedic Surgeon Treat Back Pain?
An orthopedic surgeon focuses on correcting musculoskeletal impairments that affect the bones, joints, and muscles. When it comes to back pain, there are many types of orthopedic procedures for patients needing surgical intervention. Below are the most common types of orthopedic surgeries for back pain. Treatment recommendations depend on the underlying cause of your back pain.
Lumbar Spinal Fusion is commonly recommended for patients with a misshapen (scoliosis) or unstable spine (spondylolisthesis). It can also be used to treat patients with nonspecific or chronic back pain due to degenerative changes to the spine that have failed non-operative care. The surgeon fuses certain spinal bones to prevent excess movement in the spinal vertebrae to alleviate back pain with minimal impact on the patient’s physical activity
Laminectomy is a standard procedure for patients with a narrowing spine or lumbar spinal stenosis. The surgeon removes the abnormal structures of the musculoskeletal system, such as bone spurs or ligaments, to alleviate pain and weakness. It’s common for laminectomy patients to require spinal fusion as part of their back pain treatments.
Disc Replacement involves the removal of damaged or herniated spinal discs for replacement. Installing artificial discs in the spine can help improve stability and movement and prevent pain. This procedure carries lower risks of patient movement restrictions than spinal fusion surgery.
Some types of orthopedic surgery are robotic-assisted procedures. An orthopedic surgeon performs surgery with an advanced medical robotics system to enhance patient outcomes. Robotics technology allows the surgeon to perform a wider range of movements and techniques with greater precision and accuracy, so patients have fewer side effects, faster recoveries, and better results.
Most patients’ orthopedic treatments for back pain don’t generally start or end with surgery. Surgery is standard in some comprehensive treatment plans that integrate medication, physical therapy/rehab, and other advanced medical procedures. Experienced orthopedic surgeons recommend the most efficient tests and procedures to prevent treatment delays and optimize recovery.
Choose Chicago Center for Orthopedics for Back Pain Relief
Orthopedic spine specialists at the Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss Memorial Hospital deliver safe, effective, and diverse treatment options for back pain to help patients regain their range of motion and mobility. Treatment plans are optimized for each patient and designed to alleviate pain and facilitate favorable outcomes