Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain sufferers can endure a life of misery. The constant pain affects not only their ability to move and overall quality of life, but possibly their ability to work and support themselves.

Patients with chronic back pain often develop depression. However, chronic back pain is no longer something a patient must simply “learn to live with.”

A Tampa Bay spine doctor can help ease or manage chronic back pain and help patients feel comfortable once again.

Defining the Ailment

By definition, chronic back pain is that which lasts three months or longer, after any cause or initial injury of back pain has been treated. Approximately one-fifth of all people diagnosed with low back pain will develop chronic back pain.

Why does sudden – or acute – back pain become chronic? There is no one reason, and patient evaluation is necessary to get to the bottom of it.

Potential Causes

Chronic back pain may result from damage to the bones, nerves, muscles, or the spinal cord. After the original trauma has healed, the pain remains.

In some patients, the nerves carrying pain signals to the brain are not functioning properly, and the patient perceives pain more intensely. This sensitivity means a light tap may cause excruciating pain.

Diagnosis Process

Diagnosing chronic pain is difficult. The spinal cord doctor in Tampa Bay wants to ensure that the original diagnosis of the cause of the back pain was correct. A physical examination is performed and a medical history is taken. If necessary, additional diagnostic tests are done. These may include:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • EMGs
  • MRIs
  • Bone scans

Blood tests may reveal an underlying condition affecting the patient and contributing to pain. Even if no cause of the chronic back pain is determined, it is important to rule out possible causes. An examination by a Tampa Bay spinal cord doctor can best determine the cause of an individual’s pain.

Treatment and Management

If an actual cause of the chronic back pain is discovered, treatment centers on that origin. If no cause is determined, symptoms are treated and managed. Much depends on how the pain affects the patient’s life.

By the time a patient has a chronic back pain issue, conservative treatments have generally failed. Doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants in conjunction with pain-relieving medications.

Chronic back pain often prevents patients from getting enough sleep, so sleep aids may be recommended or prescribed.

Patients may receive antidepressants, which lift mood and often relieve pain to some degree. Antidepressants are especially effective when the pain is nerve-related.

Anti-seizure medications also help with particular kinds of nerve pain, especially the “shooting” variety. The doctor may prescribe opioids for pain management, which are safe and effective when taken as directed.

Treatments such as radiofrequency ablation target the nerves sending pain signals. It is not a permanent fix, but offers long-term pain relief. When the pain returns, another treatment keeps it at bay again.

Injectable nerve root blocks are another option for pain relief. So are steroid injections in the affected area. Facet joint injections relieve pain if these joints – which assist spinal movement – are involved.

A pain pump, surgically implanted in the back, can help manage severe pain.  Medication is automatically released by the pump.

Contact a Doctor

If you are suffering from chronic back pain, contact a Tampa spinal cord doctor today to make an appointment for an examination.