Your spine is truly at the center of your health, so taking care of the backbone of everything you do is always important. You don’t need to limit yourself from doing the things you love because of back pain. You can find relief right now with our spine care experts at Rothman Orthopaedics at AdventHealth East Orlando.
With insight from our experts at Rothman Orthopaedics, orthopedic spine surgeon Andrew Alvarez, MD, and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Anita Vijapura, MD, provide information on how to best care for your back pain, common causes of back pain, and treatment options for back pain.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Spinal problems are a painful and, unfortunately, common occurrence. Many adults experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it can cause many people to miss work, too.
With back pain being such a common occurrence, you might be wondering about its underlying causes. According to Dr. Alvarez, “Back pain is often a symptom of another medical condition and can have any number of causes. Our goal is to alleviate your pain, whatever the source.”
Some of the most common causes of back pain include:
Standing Tall: Steps for Better Back and Spine Health
“Although it’s natural for your spine to go through changes, being mindful of your posture and taking care of yourself can help keep the pain away,” says Dr. Vijapura.
Some important strategies to prevent back and neck pain from Drs. Alvarez and Vijapura include:
- Adjusting the height of your desk, computer and chair
- Avoiding lifting anything that’s too heavy, or twisting when lifting items
- Avoiding slouching to prevent strain on your neck and shoulders
- Avoiding smoking, which lessens normal blood flow and damages bone density, discs and connective tissue
- Eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthful weight
- Going to physical therapy to improve balance, reduce pain and control osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
- Managing stress
- Practicing good posture by sitting or standing with your head up and your back straight
- Sleeping on your side, as well as placing a pillow under your knees and using a firm mattress
- Staying active to keep muscles strong and flexible
Treatments for Back Pain
Most back pain resolves within a month of home treatment, especially for people younger than age 60. Pain relievers and using heat may be all you need. However, for many, the pain lasts several months or more.
Continue your activities as much as you can with back pain. Dr. Alvarez recommends, “Try light activity, such as walking. Stop activity that increases pain, but don't avoid activity because you fear the pain.” In fact, it is more helpful to continue light activity than to stay on bed rest.
If home treatments aren't working after several weeks, your health care provider might recommend stronger medications or other therapies.
Medications depend on the type of back pain. They might include:
- Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might help. Take these medications only as directed. Overuse can cause serious side effects. If pain relievers you can buy without a prescription don't help, your health care provider might suggest prescription NSAIDs
- Muscle relaxants: If mild to moderate back pain doesn't improve with pain relievers, a muscle relaxant might help. Muscle relaxants can cause dizziness and sleepiness
- Topical pain relievers: These products, including creams, salves, ointments and patches, deliver pain-relieving substances through the skin
- Narcotics: Drugs containing opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, may be used for a short time with close medical supervision
- Antidepressants: Some types of antidepressants — particularly duloxetine (Cymbalta) and tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline — have been shown to relieve chronic back pain
A physical therapist can teach exercises to increase flexibility, strengthen back and abdominal muscles, and improve posture. “The goal of physical therapy is to equip you with the tools and techniques to not only resolve painful episodes, but to prevent them from even occurring by maintaining a level of strength and support for your spine,” say Dr. Vijapura.
Surgery and Other Procedures
Procedures used to treat back pain may include:
- Cortisone injections: If other measures don't relieve pain that radiates down the leg, an injection of cortisone plus a numbing medication into the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots might help. A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, but the pain relief usually lasts only a month or two
- Radiofrequency ablation: In this procedure, a fine needle is inserted through the skin near the area causing the pain. Radio waves are passed through the needle to damage the nearby nerves. Damaging the nerves interferes with pain signals to the brain
- Implanted nerve stimulators: Devices implanted under the skin can deliver electrical impulses to certain nerves to block pain signals
- Surgery: Surgery to create more space within the spine is sometimes helpful for people who have increasing muscle weakness or back pain that goes down a leg. These problems can be related to herniated disks or other conditions that narrow the openings within the spine
Healthy Spine, Healthy Life
Our spine care specialists are ready to listen, answer your questions and explain spinal disorder treatment options. Then, we’ll offer you the latest technology and diagnostic tests. If you need an expert physician, nutritionist, physical therapist or pain management specialist, we’ll connect you with our experts to care for your specific needs.
The Backbone to Heal, the Heart to Care
Whether you need treatment for scoliosis, spinal cancer or another spinal condition, we’re here for you, from the emergency room to the physical therapy room.
You can find all the experts you need for back pain relief in one place. AdventHealth has created a comprehensive program by bringing together clinical leaders from AdventHealth Spine Center, Orlando Neurosurgery and Rothman Orthopaedics. Nationally recognized expertise and a local legacy of exceptional treatment ensures our patients have the very best care close to home, with several convenient locations across Central Florida.
Our team of spine experts at Rothman Orthopaedics at AdventHealth East Orlando is ready to help. You can learn more about how we can support your spine health at SpineCareExperts.com.