More than 615 million people suffer from back pain globally and low back pain is a leading cause of chronic pain and disability worldwide, with an estimated 80% of people likely to experience it at some point in their lives. Lower back pain, especially when caused by spinal conditions, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, mobility and overall well-being. But there are treatments available to help.
“While non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, medication and lifestyle modifications are often the first line of defense, there are situations where spine surgery makes more sense,” explained Dr. Nick Ghazarian, director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Program at Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center.
Around 8% of the population 18 and older has chronic back pain to the point of their activities becoming extremely limited. Dr. Ghazarian recommends the following non-surgical approaches to back pain first:
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy plays a vital role in back pain management by helping patients strengthen the back muscles, improve flexibility and enhance overall posture and body mechanics.
Medication Management: Medications can help alleviate back pain and reduce inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed to reduce pain and swelling and muscle relaxants may also be used to relieve muscle spasms.
Pain Management Injections: Injection therapies can provide targeted relief for back pain. Such injections may deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area, reducing pain and inflammation and improving mobility.
Alternative Therapies: Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), can provide additional pain relief and promote relaxation. These therapies may be used in conjunction with other non-surgical treatments to enhance their effectiveness and improve overall well-being.
So when is it time to consider surgical options?
“The decision to undergo spine surgery is a significant one and should only be considered when non-surgical treatments have been exhausted. Fortunately, surgical procedures have come a long way,” said Dr. Ghazarian. “At Glendale Memorial Hospital, patients suffering from back pain have access to a minimally invasive procedure that is more efficient and accurate than traditional spine surgery. Beyond generally having less radiation, minimally invasive spine surgery results in more precise procedures and outcomes, improved patient safety, decreased surgical time and faster recovery.”
It is understood that individuals are unique and each is encouraged to consult with their spine specialist to see if surgery is right for them. In the meantime, visit dignityhealth.org/glendale/spine to take a back and neck assessment to understand symptoms, causes and types of spine pain, as well as which lifestyle factors can increase or decrease risks.