The nation is currently reeling from a wave of opioid dependence, addiction and overdose deaths; and low back pain is playing a part in fueling the epidemic. Patients with low back pain may be at risk of developing an addiction to opioids.
Nearly 40 percent of participants in a recent NPR-Truven Health Analytics Poll said their doctor recommended painkillers over non drug therapies to treat pain in the lower back.
Prescription painkillers only temporarily treat symptoms and they come with risk of addiction. People with back pain should use caution when seeing a doctor for their pain. That’s why it’s important to see a board certified and fellowship trained back doctor who is familiar with the conditions and diseases of the spine.
At the BioSpine institute, opioids are never considered a viable solution in managing a patient’s acute or chronic back pain. Painkillers are only prescribed to our post-surgery patients. But because our minimally invasive spine surgery approach results in a ¾-inch incision, less pain and a quicker recovery when compared to traditional spine surgery, many of our patients never need the painkillers. An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication like Advil, Naproxen or Tylenol often works well enough.
Low back pain is a common Problem
More than 31 million Americans are affected by low back pain at any given time. It’s the second most common reason why people visit the doctor, only outnumbered by upper-respiratory problems. Pain in the lower back is also one of the main reasons why employees call out of work sick.
Pain in the neck or back is something most people will experience at some point in their lives. The primary culprit is the passage of time. As someone ages, the discs in their back begin to degenerate, losing their ability to retain moisture. They dehydrate and become brittle, making them more prone to bulging, herniation and thinning. Bone spurs may also form on the vertebrae above and below the discs.
Exercise and physical therapy is a great way to alleviate back pain caused by degenerative disc conditions. It can even reduce the frequency in which someone suffers an acute bout of pain in the lower back. Chronic back pain on the other hand often requires another approach.
When Spine Surgery is the answer
Many chronic neck and back pain patients have lived with pain for years. They have tried over-the-counter medications, massage, physical therapy and exercise; and, yet, the pain remains. While some of these treatments may help to temporarily relieve pain, they don’t solve the underlying issue. The type of symptoms a patient has can indicate whether or not a surgical approach is necessary.
Chronic back pain is sometimes accompanied by other symptoms, such as tingling, pain in the arms and legs, leg numbness and weakness. In more severe cases, symptoms can even included a loss in bladder and bowel control. These symptoms can indicate a surgical approach is necessary to resolve issues, such an impinged nerve or compressed spinal cord
BioSpine doctors review a patient’s medical history and image the spine to determine whether or not surgery is needed.