Back pain may originate in the back, but can radiate to the back, hips, legs, arms or neck. The spine is the center of your skeletal structure, so back pain is rarely just back pain. Back pain can be caused by damage to the muscles, nerves, bones, discs or cord in the spine. It may have a sudden onset, like from trauma, or can be a chronic pain, like permanent damage from an injury or a degenerative bone condition. Back pain can be constant or episodic, stay in one place or radiate to other areas of the body, and can greatly vary in presentation. It may be a dull ache, a sharp, stabbing feeling, or a tingling or burning sensation. It may or may not change with different movements. And depending on if or where it radiates, it can cause other symptoms such as nausea.
Causes of Back Pain
Back pain is a common complaint worldwide. There are an infinite number of things that can cause back pain, which is why pinpointing the origin of the back pain in a patient can sometimes seem almost impossible. Injuries to the spine itself, its discs or cord, the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and, of course, the nerves, can all result in back pain. But so can degenerative diseases like MS, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia. Back pain can also come from lifestyle factors like obesity or bad posture or damage or disease in your internal organs. For instance, people with kidney stones often report periods of severe, acute back pain. Doctors may use blood tests, CSF tests, or imaging tests like MRI’s and CT scans to diagnose the cause. But sometimes they simply can’t, which makes creating a course of back pain therapy that is effective difficult. And to further complicate matters, pain is not what we were taught.
Symptoms: Common vs Severe
Common symptoms of back pain include:
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the back that may radiate through the limbs
- Burning sensation in the back and/or limbs
- Limited function of limbs (ex. foot drop)
- Numbness in the buttocks, feet or hands
- Trouble bending, twisting, getting up and laying down without discomfort
- Synovial cysts (small lumps filled with fluid, usually in lower back pain)
Symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to the ER include:
- Pain so severe it causes nausea and/or vomiting
- Sudden weight loss not due to lifestyle changes
- Legs continually become weaker over time
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
People who have pre-existing conditions like cancer or bone disease should always check in with a medical professional if they experience back pain, in case of issues like metastasis or fractures.
Traditional Treatments for Back Pain
The treatments for chronic back pain are as diverse as the causes, even within the field of traditional Western medicine. Stretches, exercises, back braces, weight loss and physical therapy are all non-medicinal types of back pain therapy that many physicians will recommend in tandem with a medication regimen. Medicinal pain management might be OTC painkillers, prescription pain medications or medications to reduce/relax muscle spasms. In some cases of debilitating pain, as well as cases where a doctor is able to pinpoint the damage, surgical interventions like vertebral fusions or discectomies are performed to repair or remove the damage causing the pain.
But there are issues with these methods. First, all pharmaceuticals, especially opioids, come with long-term risks for addiction, heart attacks (NSAIDs) and organ damage. Surgeries come with their own risks, like adverse responses to anesthesia. The other issue with surgery, particularly back surgeries, is they by no means guarantee relief from chronic pain or restored function. You may undergo an invasive surgery with a long recovery time only to be put right back on a maintenance medication for pain.
Blatman Health and Wellness Centers in NYC and Cincinnati: Regenerative Medicine for Back Pain
At Blatman Health and Wellness Center of Cincinnati, Ohio, we offer various treatments to back pain sufferers that are safer, less invasive, and more holistic than you’d find at a typical pain clinic. Our focus is regenerative medicine, meaning procedures and treatments that encourage healing your back pain – not merely mitigating or managing. Several types of back pain therapy we offer that don’t use any unnatural chemicals or invasive procedures include platelet-rich-plasma treatments, stem cell injections and prolotherapy, trigger point injections, among others. These treatments stimulate and support the body’s own healing processes, encouraging tissue growth and repair and discouraging inflammation and further degeneration. Another reason to visit one of our health and wellness centers for back pain therapy is that, if we can’t find you relief with our regenerative treatments, we can still help manage your pain and improve your quality of life without opioids. Dr. Blatman is certified to recommend medical marijuana in the state of OHIO, and can design you a course of treatment that uses the right doses in the right strains to manage your unique case.
If you think you may be a good candidate for back pain treatment, or any of our other various wellness and pain relief services, and want more information, please contact us at Blatman Health and Wellness Center to schedule an appointment.