Back pain is pretty much universal, since it can affect anyone at any stage of life. In fact, it’s estimated roughly 90 percent of the population will experience some type of spine-related discomfort at one time or another. While every situation is unique, there are some common back issues that can affect anyone for one reason or another.
Over time, spinal discs can naturally wear down enough to irritate nearby nerves. Discs can also become herniated or displaced due to poor posture, hard impacts, or abnormal pressure. If you have a damaged spinal disc, you may notice localized or radiating pain, muscle weakness, or numbness. Treatment may involve:
• Limited rest
• Active physical therapy
• Minimally invasive decompression surgery to take pressure off affected nerves
One specific surgical option is lumbar disc replacement. Santa Monica patients who undergo this procedure have a diseased or damaged disc in the lower part of the spine removed and replaced with an artificial implant.
Affecting somewhere around nine million Americans, scoliosis may be seen in infants and children, but it can also develop later in life. Uneven body alignment and abnormal walking patterns are among the signs that may suggest you have a spinal curvature issue. Treatment, which may include physical therapy, bracing, or surgery, will depend on the extent of the abnormal curvature.
Typically associated with rear-end car accidents, whiplash is caused by a sudden back-and-forth motion. The result is often soft tissue injuries within the neck and upper back areas, which may limit your range of motion or cause pain associated with various movements. Many people with whiplash benefit from:
• Pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications
• Heat therapy, which could include using a heating pad
• Rest or activity management to allow tissues to heal
The sciatic nerve, which starts at the base of the spine, can be a source of pain, weakness, and numbness that extends downward into the legs. Sudden trauma, pregnancy-related changes, and added pressure and stress in the lower back area are some of the possible causes of sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica. Physical therapy is often recommended to manage sciatica. Some patients also benefit from anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, lumbar therapeutic injections, chiropractic treatments, or massage therapy.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is more likely to be a source of back issues for adults 50 and older. However, it can also affect younger adults due to factors such as excess weight, poor posture, and a lack of sufficient nutrition.
OA doesn’t always cause pain, but it may contribute to an increased risk of spinal fractures or accelerated disc or joint wear. This type of arthritis isn’t reversible, but you may be able to reduce your risk of developing it with:
• Regular exercise
• Healthy dietary choices
• Adjustments to your posture
Due to the complexity of the human spine, there are many variables that can be involved with back pain. Therefore, it’s best to check with your doctor or a spine specialist if anything out of the ordinary is going on with your spine. Getting an accurate diagnosis makes it easier to personalize treatment recommendations to focus on those likely to benefit you most.
If you’re having extreme or prolonged back pain, see a Santa Monica spine surgeon right away. Early diagnosis can be key to getting proper treatment and increasing the chance of a full recovery. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute are industry leaders in cutting-edge, innovative surgical techniques and treatments for every part of the spine. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.