Find relief from pain with a back specialist in Los Angeles.
Most of the time, the aches and pains that can affect your spine will go away with rest for a few days, the application of heat or ice, and the use of over-the-counter painkillers. Should these initial treatment attempts fail, or if pain becomes severe and persistent, most people will make a trip to their regular doctor.
- While certainly well-qualified to make an initial diagnosis of what may be causing your pain based on your medical history and symptoms, primary care physicians may not have access to the resources required to make a more accurate diagnosis.
- This is just one reason why you may benefit from a visit to a back specialist in Los Angeles.
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What Are Common Causes of Back Pain?
It’s muscle strain that often contributes to spine-related pain. Lower back strain, in particular, can be caused by pulled muscles or overstretched fibrous ligaments. When these tissues become irritated, the body reacts by triggering inflammation. It’s this local swelling that causes muscles to spasm or tighten. Additionally, inflammation may affect muscles in your buttocks, hips, or thighs that indirectly support your spine. A back specialist in Los Angeles can also determine if your pain or limited mobility is due to:
How Is Back Pain Diagnosed?
If you see a back specialist in Los Angeles, they will start by discussing your symptoms in detail to determine what seems to trigger your pain. You may be asked to rate your discomfort on a one to ten scale and talk about how your back pain is affecting your daily life. Assessments like this can help narrow down potential pain sources and rule out some more serious issues.
In order to make a positive diagnosis of a suspected cause of back pain, a specialist often performs an assortment of tests. In addition to X-rays and MRI and CT scans, diagnosis may involve blood tests, nerve studies to measure nerve responses to certain muscle movements, and range-of-motion and manual muscle testing.
Injections are also sometimes used to diagnose back pain, especially if it’s suspected that a particular nerve may be contributing to your discomfort. Diagnostic injections may only include a local anesthetic to determine if immediate relief is experienced. If there’s a positive reaction, another injection may be given with a type of steroid medication to help reduce inflammation.
What Are Possible Treatment Options?
After an accurate diagnosis has been made, a back specialist in Los Angeles will develop a personalized treatment plan geared towards relieving or managing your discomfort. Medications recommended typically include a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and OTC or prescription pain-relievers. Some patients also benefit from muscle relaxants and therapeutic injections for pain relief.
The purpose of medication is to manage back pain enough to allow patients to explore various forms of physical therapy. For instance, the temporary relief experienced with an epidural injection may make it easier for you to perform PT exercises without as much discomfort. Active forms of PT that involve patient participation may be combined with therapeutic techniques such as:
- TENS units and other forms of electrical stimulation
- Massage therapy
- Muscle-release techniques
When Is Surgery Recommended?
Few people will absolutely need to have surgery for back pain unless symptoms are debilitating or potentially life-threatening. But if you’re not responding well to non-surgical treatments after several months or your pain is becoming more of a distraction in your daily life, a back specialist may discuss surgical options with you. There are two main purposes with any type of back-related surgery: decompression of nerve root pressure and stabilization of the spine. While there are important factors to consider with any type of spine surgery, many of the procedures performed today, including fusion surgery, involve techniques that aren’t as invasive as what was previously done.
A back specialist in Los Angeles is equally committed to helping patients minimize their risk of re-injury or experiencing other spine-related problems. It’s often things like diet and exercise choices, sleeping positions, posture while sitting and standing, and even the type of shoes you wear that can affect your back and the muscles that support it in one way or another. Being mindful of issues like these can make it easier for your spine to effectively manage the stress from your daily movements and activities.