What Treatment Options Are Available for Chronic Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most common health problems nationwide, affecting millions of Americans each year. It can restrict your activities, reduce your quality of life, and take a toll on your emotional health. There are a multitude of reasons why back pain can occur, from trauma and injuries to spinal disorders and degenerative conditions. Your back is a complex structure, and its complexity means there are a multitude of opportunities for problems to arise. Because of the variety of possible causes, the sheer number of available treatments for chronic back pain can be overwhelming for patients. Not only is there a wide array of non-surgical treatments, but each individual treatment option may also have several variations.
At NY Orthopedics’ Spine Center, we’re committed to personalizing treatments for chronic back pain and we strive to make everything as straightforward and simple as possible for our patients. Our goal is to relieve your discomfort and improve your quality of life. And at a practice that’s home to numerous fellowship-trained spinal specialists, you can rest assured that you’ll have access to the latest and most effective treatments for chronic back pain. In this blog, the spine specialists at NY Orthopedics’ Spine Center will describe some of the treatments offered for chronic back pain and explain which patients may be good candidates for each option.
What’s Involved with Chronic Back Pain Treatments?
Before explaining the types of treatments offered at NY Orthopedics, here’s a simple overview of what’s typically involved with these different options. The majority of our treatments can be performed using X-ray/fluoroscopic guided technology, which allows us to visualize the treatment area with real-time moving images on a display screen. This enables us to guide injections with great precision – all without needing to surgically open up the skin.
Aside from what they are designed to treat, the primary differences between our various treatments for chronic back pain have to do with:
- Where the injections are administered
- Whether they involve the use of fluoroscopy
- Whether the injections are comprised of anti-inflammatory steroids, numbing agents (e.g. lidocaine) or both
Treatments for Chronic Back Pain at NY Orthopedics
Conservative options are effective at treating many spinal injuries and conditions, which is why we strive to implement non-surgical treatments for chronic back pain whenever possible. Depending on your unique needs, our physicians may recommend treatments that include the following.
Facet Joint Injections
The facet joints are tiny joints where the “wings” of the vertebra meet, and injection of a numbing agent and/or steroid directly into the joint capsule can be an effective treatment for chronic back pain, particularly common among patients who have cartilage degeneration or twisting injuries. When a facet joint is the source of pain, this type of injection may not only alleviate the pain, but can also work as a diagnostic tool to confirm exactly where the pain is being generated.
This procedure may be a good option for patients with herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis. It’s similar to an epidural administered during labor and birth, but in this case, a steroid is injected into the spine rather than an anesthetic. The injected steroid can significantly help to reduce inflammation and associated pain. Depending on the practitioner and the patient’s needs, epidural injections may combine steroids along with a numbing agent in some cases.
Sacroiliac Joint Block Injections
The sacroiliac joint is a solid joint connecting the sacrum — the end of the spine, where the “dimples” in the lower back occur — to the pelvic bones. In this treatment for chronic back pain, fluoroscopy is used to guide a needle that injects the joint with an anti-inflammatory steroid along with a numbing agent. This procedure is most often used to diagnose and treat pain associated with sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Medial Branch Blocks
A medial branch block involves injecting anesthetic near small nerves connected to specific facet joints in the spine. It is primarily a diagnostic test that identifies whether a patient is a good candidate for a subsequent treatment for lower back pain called a medial branch radiofrequency ablation, which uses radiofrequency energy to interrupt the flow of pain signals to the brain.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger points are a muscular issue that can cause pain in a variety of areas, especially the back. In essence, they are tiny, isolated cramps within the body of a muscle. They are usually smaller than the size of a pea and often no bigger than the head of a pin. Their defining characteristic is pain. They are painful when touched and may cause pain in other areas too. A trigger point injection uses lidocaine or a similar substance to numb the trigger point and allow it to relax, relieving pain.
Learn More About Available Treatments for Chronic Back Pain in NY
Back pain can have many components, but fortunately, there are numerous non-surgical options to help you find relief. Effective, long-term treatment for chronic back pain may require a combination of procedures and techniques. Put simply, your back is unique, and your treatment plan will be unique too.
An evaluation is the first step toward becoming pain-free, so call us today or schedule an appointment with one of the spine specialists at NY Orthopedics. In the meantime, you can get more information about the spinal conditions we treat and the treatment options offered at our practice by heading over to our Video Learning Center or by checking out the procedure-specific videos on this site.