5 Key Things to Understand About Your Back Pain in Los Angeles, CA

The first thing to know about back pain is you’re not alone if you experience it. Anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of the population has back-related pain at one time or another. If you happen to be living with back pain, take comfort in knowing there are many treatment options. Still, you may have some misconceptions or concerns about your discomfort. Here are five key things you should understand about back pain that may provide some peace of mind.

1. There’s Often No Single Cause

Some instances of back pain are brought on by improper lifting techniques or from overdoing it at the gym. However, most instances of recurring back pain can’t be linked to any one thing. In fact, it’s not unusual for several factors to contribute to issues within or around the spine that eventually lead to noticeable back pain, which is often the case with:

  • Degenerative disc disease (age-related wear of spinal discs)
  • Non-specific lower back pain without a clear source
  • Back pain related to progressive conditions like arthritis

2. You Can Play an Active Role in Treating Your Back Pain

It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking there’s nothing you can do about your back pain. However, you can regain a sense of control by playing an active role in how your spine-related pain is treated. From hot and cold applications and massage therapy to chiropractic manipulations and epidural injections, there are many options you can explore for treatment. When you settle on a treatment plan, commit to it and understand it often takes time to see results. You can further participate in your treatment by:

  • Eating foods that naturally minimize inflammation (e.g. nuts, oily fish, whole grains)
  • Making more of an effort to take breaks when sitting for long periods
  • Staying socially active and mentally positive
  • Communicating honestly with your doctor and physical therapist about what you’re experiencing

3. You’re Not Likely to Get an Accurate Diagnosis from Online Research

There are many trustworthy sources of spine-related information online, and it’s entirely possible you could find some recommendations that provide relief. However, if you’re not seeing significant improvement, see your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon to get a more accurate diagnosis. This is an important step to take since you’re more likely to experience positive results with treatment if a likely source of pain can be identified. While you may base your self-diagnosis on a Google search of your symptoms, spine doctors typically use more comprehensive methods such as:

  • X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and bone scans
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Muscle tests
  • Laboratory tests to rule out spinal infections
  • Injections for diagnostic purposes

4. You’ll Have to Work to Get Results That Matter to You

Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may provide relief. However, these are passive treatments that only provide temporary results without treating the source of the back pain. Instead of relying solely on temporary sources of relief, work toward seeing results that matter to you by actively participating in a physical therapy program. This means:

  • Following recommendations for what you can do to strengthen your spine between sessions
  • Setting smaller, achievable goals so you’ll be motivated to stick to your physical therapy program
  • Finding the right balance between being active and giving your spine a break so it can naturally heal and recover

5. It’s Okay to Ask a Lot of Questions

There’s no such thing as too many questions when trying to learn more about back pain and how it can be treated. If you’ve just received a diagnosis of a herniated disc or a specific condition like sciatica, schedule a separate appointment with your doctor to ask questions. The process of gathering information can also include:

  • Learning more about your type of back pain
  • Discussing treatment goals with your doctor so you’ll both be on the same page
  • Getting more than one opinion, especially if spine surgery is being discussed

There are also steps you can take to minimize back pain or reduce the odds of experiencing distracting symptoms. For instance, making changes to your posture, sleeping positions, and diet and exercise habits could make your spine and the muscles that support it stronger and healthier. Even getting 20-30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week may be a good thing for your spine.

Chronic back pain may require undergoing a minimally invasive procedure like spinal fusion. Beverly Hills residents who think they might need surgery to find relief for their pain should reach out to The Spine Institute. Call 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.