David Lundin, MD, FAANS

How can I get rid of my back pain?

 

The very first question most people ask me when they come in for an appointment (or if they meet me at a social gathering and find out I’m a spine doc) is, “How can I get rid of my back pain?” Back pain is one of the most common and frequent issues bringing people in to see their doctors. The most typical source of back pain is lumbar strain–an acute inflammation of the muscles, ligaments or joints. The best treatment for lumbar strain is rest for 1-2 days (no lifting, minimal walking or activity), in addition to anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. ibuprofen such as Advil or Aleve, as long as you don’t have a medical condition that precludes safe use), plus heat and gentle stretching exercises. If you are unsure about which exercises to do, a physical therapist can be a good resource, or look online. One website I like that offers stretching exercises to help with back pain is www.spine-health.com.

If pain continues for more than 7-10 days or is associated with symptoms in your legs such as radiating pain, numbness, tingling or mild weakness, consult your doctor as this may be a more serious condition of disk herniation (bulging disc) or spinal stenosis (often called a “pinched nerve,” it’s a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine.)

If you develop sudden severe weakness in your legs, numbness in your buttock area or both legs and/or any loss of bowel or bladder control, seek emergency medical attention immediately as this can represent severe nerve damage and typically requires emergency surgery.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in a 3-month period, about 25% of U.S. adults experience at least one day of back pain. Of course anyone can experience back pain, but there are two factors that increase your risk substantially: age (back pain is more common as you get older), and fitness level (back pain is more common among people with weak back and abdominal muscles.) The key to prevention is daily, low-impact aerobic exercise. “Weekend warriors” are more likely to have back problems and suffer back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit.

You can’t do anything about getting older, but you can be mindful of ways to keep your back healthy into your twilight years.

-Dr. Lundin

13 Comments Leave your own

  1. After trying to aleviate my chonic back pain with PT, chiropratic, and meds, I was finally diagnosed with degenerative spondylolisthesits on the L4 & L5 by Dr Lundin.
    Dr. Lundin was very thorough with the exam and explained my options during the consultation. We tried cortisone shots, but they didnt provide any relief. So I opted for surgery. Dr. Lundin had 2 surgical options for me to consider. The first the traditional spinal fusion, which comes with a bit of hardware and a long recoup time. The second option was doing a procedure I’d never heard of which was ths Xlif, which is minimally invasive and less hardware and a faster recoup period. I choose option 2. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Wearing a brace, at 4 weeks I walked a couple 5k, 6 weeks I was back at the gym. I was able to resume activities after about 12 weeks. Im now 14months post surgery and feel fabulous. My most recent accomplishment was doing the Columbia Tower stair climb, 1311 steps completed, without pain in 20 minutes. If it wasn’t for Dr. Lundin I’d still be miserable and in pain.
    I recommend anyone experiencing back pain to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lundin. I’m a very satisfied and pain free patient.

  2. I am post-op 20 mo from a redo laminectomy. My current surgeon whom I am happy with has stated in the future I will need a fourth surgey to fuse more of my back. I worked in the OR for many years and really want a 2nd opinion of my options. How current do MRI’s need to be? And what other information do you require for an apt?

  3. For spondylolisthesis should I be seeing an ortho or neuro surgeon? I also have degenerative arthritis of the SI. Have had injections in both left & right SI, also lumbar 4 & 5. Only one injection (left SI) helped. Orthosurgeon recommends fusion surgery for the lumbar. I’m concerned because nerve roots going down my legs are pinched and causing great deal of pain.

    • This is a complex question and really has more to do with your surgeons knowledge of the condition. This is a very common condition I treat in our spine center and there are many options generally available. Please feel free to make an appointment anytime.

  4. I had an MRI done an sent it to Laser Spine Institute they reviewed the film they noted the following abnormalities Degenerative disc disease bulge/herniation. Spinal stenosis foramina narrowing facet disease they. Said that I im potential candidate for laser spinal procedure do you know where I can have this done in Washington or Oregon I live in Salem Or please let me know I have blue cross ins thank you Mike Tanner

  5. Do you use minimally invasive procedures for spinal stenosis treatment?

  6. Do you guys do laser spine surgery? Who do I call for a consultation?

  7. I have lumbar spinal stenosis in the 2-3 3-4 4-5 and 5-s1. I have had two laminectomies since 2009 and two x-stops in the 3-4 and 4-5. I am still in pain….my left leg in the lower calf is where the pain accumulates. Any suggestions???

  8. I have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and bulging disk. I had a lumbar MRi. I had a cortizone injection along with physical therapy. So far, no help from both. I want to seek a 2nd opinion or ideas of what might help. Thank you.

  9. I have been dealing with spinal stenosis for a lil over 3 years now, I have seen a nuerologist, as well as an orthopedic back specialist, I have done physical therapy 2 seperate times, I have done a nerve conduction text. I have had a spinal tap and steroid shots. I have had and xray,and a ct scan my dr’s have requested that I have surgery to fix the problem but my insurance refuses to ay for it. Is there anything else I can do. I am a stay at home mom with a 2 year old I can play with her, I can hold her with out fear of droping her I can’t carry anything mor then 10 pounds, I can walk or stand or sit for long periods of time. I am on a permanant regement of pain killers and I really wish I didn’t have to be on them. If there is anything else I could possibly do for the pain I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you

    • This sounds like a complex problem and one in which you need to see a spinal specialist. Generally we can evaluate the entire case and offer options that will be covered by most insurance companies.

  10. The National Institute of Health (NIH) also states “Evidence indicates that spinal manipulation can provide mild-to-moderate relief from low-back pain. It appears to be as effective as conventional treatments, and recent guidelines for health care practitioners include it as a treatment option for pain that does not improve with self-care.” The NIH also reports, “Overall, studies have shown that spinal manipulation can provide mild-to-moderate relief from low-back pain and appears to be as effective as conventional medical treatments. In 2007 guidelines, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society include spinal manipulation as one of several treatment options for practitioners to consider using when pain does not improve with self-care. Recent studies have found that spinal manipulation provides relief from low-back pain at least over the short term (i.e., up to 3 months), and that pain-relieving effects may continue for up to 1 year. In one study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that examines long-term effects in more than 600 people with low-back pain, results to date suggest that chiropractic care involving spinal manipulation is at least as effective as conventional medical care for up to 18 months.”

    When conservative measures fail to provide relief or management of your condition, I highly recommend consulting with Dr. Lundin so that he can provide you with additional options which may include surgical intervention. Dr. Lundin is highly respected and is a specialist that I recommend to my patients and they appreciate that very much. Based on all accounts, he is one of the finest surgeons in the entire region.

    Kevin Murray,DC

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