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Back pain is one of the most complex and confounding conditions in medicine. There are several types of back pain, typically classified by their cause, and these pains may have their origins in back muscles, ligaments, in the spine, or even as a result of health problems in other parts of the body.
Muscle strains are the source of many cases of back pain, usually caused by overuse, such as engaging in strenuous activities to which your body is not accustomed. Symptoms of muscle strains include muscle weakness, inflammation, cramping and muscle spasms. These strains can result in severe lower back pain, but the pain remains localized, and does not radiate down to the legs.
Ligaments, which bind bones together, can also cause pain when sprained. Symptoms of ligament sprains are similar to muscle strains, but take longer to heal – between six to eight weeks and several months. If not allowed to heal properly, ligament sprains can give rise to chronic back pain.
Pain due to spinal problems is a common form of back pain. It often results from pressure exerted on spinal nerves – a condition commonly called a pinched nerve – due to degeneration, injury, or illness affecting the spinal column. A pinched nerve causes localized pain similar to a muscle strain, but may also involve other parts of the body. Pinched nerves in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine, can cause burning lower back and leg pain, and also affect the bladder, appendix, large intestine, sex organs, knees and prostate. Simple rest, medications, and physical therapy are among the beneficial non-invasive approaches to alleviate back pain in these cases. Even serious spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis and associated degenerative disc diseases that have condemned generations to sometimes crippling pain and restricted mobility, can today be effectively treated with advanced microsurgical procedures such as laminectomies and other forms of spinal decompression surgery. Spinal fusion back surgery has usually been performed immediately following spinal decompression, in order to stabilize the affected portion of the spine. Though decompression spinal surgery can dramatically alleviate pain and other symptoms of compressed or pinched nerves, the spinal fusion eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae. Today even this limitation has been surmounted. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine provides a clinically proven superior alternative to spinal fusion that preserves the full, independent motion of each vertebra.
If you’re experiencing back pain, remember that though the condition can have a variety of causes, a qualified physician can offer many effective treatment options.
Back pain affects people of all ages and both genders. But the gender most affected by back pain is men. Men are especially prone to traumatic back pain due to engagement in physical activities at work and play, such as heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, and inconsistent exercise (i.e., the weekend warrior). These activities carry a greater risk of injury to the spine and to the ligaments that support the spine. Accidents, sports injuries, and actions as simple as improperly lifting a heavy object or twisting the back awkwardly when reaching for something can all be responsible for trauma injuries. Even spinal injuries that occur in childhood can manifest in later years, providing a painful reminder of long-ago trauma. The physical stresses and strains on the spine to which men are subjected can also accelerate and exacerbate the onset of spinal conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
If you’re concerned about a back condition that’s causing you pain, remember that the great majority of cases of back pain in men involve muscle trauma or other strains or minor injuries that resolve on their own with rest and proper care. If back pain persists, a qualified medical specialist can identify the problem, and a variety of effective treatment options are likely available. Even serious spinal conditions such as degenerative disc diseases and spinal stenosis can be effectively treated. Spinal decompression surgery, for example, can relieve pressure on spinal nerves, dramatically reducing pain and associated symptoms. And today, patients no longer need to surrender the full range of spinal motion to benefit from decompression spinal surgery. Whereas spinal fusion back surgery was routinely performed in conjunction with decompression spine surgery, now the TOPS™ System alternative enables spinal decompression patients to maintain their full range of spinal motion. Instead of fusing adjacent vertebrae at the point of the decompression surgery, the TOPS System implant allows each vertebra to maintain independent flexion and lateral motion.
Men may be more prone to back pain than other groups, but today a variety of effective treatment options can provide relief for even its most serious forms.
Everyone has heard of sciatica, but few people know what it actually is – or isn’t. Sciatica is not a spinal condition, or a disease, but a set of symptoms associated with a variety of spinal conditions, characterized by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve extends from the base of the spine through the hips and buttocks and down the legs to the tips of the feet. Symptoms of compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can include radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness, a tingling sensation along the length of the nerve, and lower back pain.
Several spinal conditions can cause sciatica. A herniated disc or a ruptured disc in the lower back – the lumbar spine – can press against or leak fluid into the spinal canal, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. Traumatic injuries such as car accidents or falls can cause compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve roots or the nerve itself. A slipped disc, or spondylolisthesis, can also cause sciatica if it impinges on any part of the sciatic nerve. Lumbar spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back – can also compress or irritate the sciatic nerve.
Conservative, non-surgical treatments typically include physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and low-impact exercises. Alternative methods such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and acupressure may also be employed. However, surgery for sciatica, such as a discectomy or foraminotomy, may be required for relief of sciatica in the most severe cases of unrelenting and debilitating symptoms. Spinal decompression surgery relieves the pressure, and is often paired with spine fusion surgery to stabilize the spine after decompression. But fusion eliminates the independent mobility of the fused vertebrae. Now there’s an alternative spinal surgery proven to provide better clinical outcomes than fusion, which preserves the patient’s natural range of motion of the individual vertebrae – the TOPS Posterior Arthroplasty procedure. This is one of the exciting advances bringing new hope and treatment options to patients with moderate to severe spinal conditions that do not respond to conservative treatments. We at Premia Spine are on the forefront of developing advanced surgical treatments for spinal disorders. We encourage anyone with lower back pain to investigate all their treatment options.