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Common Back Pain Questions ?

I have back pain. How do I know if I need surgery?

Most sources agree that approximately 80% of people will experience back or neck pain at some time in their life. Surgery candidates typically present with significant and sometimes very serious problems such as loss of bladder/bowel control, spinal fractures or cancer, or severe pain or leg weakness. These types of rare problems necessitate the need to see a specialist immediately. Only about 1-2 in 100 people with back or neck pain will actually need to undergo a surgical procedure for their problem.

What is the best way to treat persistent back or neck pain?

While dozens of treatments are available ranging from massage and ultrasound to traction and electrical stimulation, a great deal of medical research indicates the very best form of treatment for persistent back and neck pain is aggressive exercise utilizing specialized equipment capable of isolating weakened or injured muscles of the spine. This type of exercise should be supervised by experienced clinicians with a deep understanding of back and neck pain as well as the human anatomy.

Will epidural shots help my back pain?

A recent review found that this procedure has little or no lasting benefit beyond a two to six week period following treatment. The American Academy of Neurology's study, which was published in the journal Neurology, refutes my experience. Thirty-seven articles were found in the search for writing this paper, but only four met the criteria that allowed them to be analyzed and included in the study. The study looked at around 300 patients (which isn't many considering how many people have this problem and get injections for it). The conclusion: getting an epidural steroid injection led to an improvement in sciatic pain between two and six weeks after treatment, but it did not relieve back pain more than placebo in the first 24 hours, three to six months, or one year after the injection.
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Why do I feel good after seeing my chiropractor, only to find my pain return a couple of days later?

Chiropractic treatment can be a great option especially for those suffering from an acute, isolated or recent episode of back or neck pain. However, a great many people report their pain returns only hours or days later and going back for treatment again and again can be difficult due to time and financial constraints.

Most back and neck pain can be traced back to weak muscles. Even though the pain might be coming from a nerve or a disc, the science tells us there is a very strong correlation between the increase in strength and the decrease in pain. Typically, the stronger someone becomes, the better they feel and the more they have reduced the risk of re-injury. Unfortunately, some of the muscles of the low back responsible for flexing and extending the spine are difficult to isolate, exercise and strengthen.

What is traditional physical therapy and will it help my chronic neck pain?

Traditional physical therapy usually consists of passive modalities such as hot/cold packs, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation as well as stretching, light exercise and general education. While these things may help patients feel a little better in the short run, they typically fail in providing long term relief of persistent back and neck pain.

Most of the medical research says aggressive exercise and rehabilitation which isolates the weakened or injured muscle groups offers the best long term results for persistent back or neck pain. Specialized rehabilitation equipment is often necessary which can test, isolate, rehabilitate and strengthen weakened or injured muscle groups primarily responsible for flexing and extending the spine. The rehabilitation equipment that best meets these goals is called MedX. MedX rehabilitation equipment is very different than what you might find in a gym and is usually hard to find in traditional physical therapy settings, too. You can visit and go to their facility locator tab to find clinicians utilizing this state-of-the-art technology.

How can I eliminate the numbness, tingling and shooting pains I sometimes feel into my arms and legs?

Often times, numbness, tingling and shooting or radicular pain into an arm or leg means there might be a problem with a disc and/or a nerve in the spine.

Specially-certified physical therapists trained in the McKenzie Method have been extremely successful in assessing and determining appropriate intervention related to such symptoms.

It is a safe and consistent systematic approach that can more accurately reach a feasible diagnosis thus allowing for a suitable treatment plan, one that is based on proactive patient involvement and education.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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