Is There Such a Thing as “Normal” Back Pain?

Is There Such a Thing as “Normal” Back Pain?

Earlier this year, reports surfaced about a Scottish woman who couldn’t feel pain. As it turns out, her genes were mutated in such a way that pain didn’t register. While this may seem like a blessing, feeling pain is actually important. The Scottish woman didn’t know when she was getting burned until she smelled charred flesh and, when she received a full medical evaluation after her prognosis, she wasn’t as healthy as she felt.

If this teaches you anything, it should be that pain is important and normal. Although uncomfortable, pain helps you know when something is broken and needs to be mended. But chronic back pain is not normal. Furthermore, no back pain is normal. If your back hurts on a daily or near-daily basis, your body is telling you that something is out of whack. Listen to it.

You don’t have to live with back pain. At Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, Kenneth Varley, MD, and the rest of our team can help you manage your chronic back pain. We’ll work with you to diagnose and treat your back pain. With our help, you can wave goodbye to daily pain.

Back pain facts

If you suffer from back pain, you’re definitely not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the United States, it accounts for 264 million lost workdays a year, which equates to two days for every worker in the country. The ACA estimates that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Finally, back pain is expensive. It costs Americans at least $50 billion in health care costs each year.

Understanding back pain

The two main causes of back pain are mechanical and radicular pain. Mechanical pain comes from joints that are dysfunctional, meaning they don’t move properly or they’re deformed due to arthritic changes. Radicular pain is the result of nerve irritation or compression. Back pain can be caused by any of the following:

  1. Facet joint dysfunction
  2. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  3. Arthritis
  4. Sciatica
  5. Radiculopathy
  6. Spinal stenosis
  7. Herniated discs

While all of these conditions can be painful, treatment can do more than eliminate the pain. If any of these conditions go untreated, they can become progressive and ultimately lead to permanent damage to your nerves or joints.

When it’s time to visit Southern Pain Specialists

If you’re just starting to experience back pain, you can try home treatment and self-care first. Mild cases of back pain typically improve within a few weeks. If your back pain becomes chronic, come in and see us. It’s time to seek help if your back pain:

  1. Causes new bowel or bladder problems
  2. Is accompanied by fever
  3. Follows a fall, blow to your back, or another injury
  4. Is severe and doesn't improve with rest
  5. Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  6. Causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs
  7. Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss

Back pain treatment

Treatment for back pain can be separated into three main categories: conservative, interventional, and surgery. Although back surgery may seem common, it’s often the last thing done to solve back pain. Conservative treatments include the following:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  2. Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications
  3. Physical therapy
  4. Bracing

If conservative treatments aren’t enough, interventional therapies will often do the trick. These treatments include:

  1. Epidural steroid injections
  2. Facet injections
  3. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET)
  4. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
  5. Sacroiliac joint injections
  6. Vertebral augmentation (kyphoplasty) 
  7. Spinal cord or nerve root electrical stimulation (SCS)

If all other treatments fail, surgery may be recommended.

No chronic back pain is normal. Come see us at Southern Pain Specialists to stop the pain and get yourself back on track. Call or bookan appointment today.