Low back pain is extremely common – almost four out of five people experience it at some point in their lives. Pain focused specifically on the lower back can have several causes and severity levels, from mild discomfort that doesn’t interfere with daily life to severe pain that limits mobility. The lower part of the back is made up of five vertebrae which bear the weight of the upper body. The high amount of movement and stress this part of the back experiences makes it subject to wear and tear that can lead to injury. In many cases, lower back pain resolves on its own over a short period of time. If you have been experiencing low back pain that has become chronic and long-lasting, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic spine specialists at OrthoGeorgia. The causes of low back pain can vary widely, and the expertise of orthopaedic specialists will provide you with the insights you need to take the best next steps for your spine health. We will determine the cause of your pain and provide personalized treatment options. Learn more below about this common condition and how we diagnose and treat low back pain at OrthoGeorgia.
What are the Symptoms of Low Back Pain?
The symptoms of low back pain can vary from person to person, depending on the cause of the pain. Those with lower back issues may experience stabbing or shooting pain, making it difficult to stand up straight. Pain may also worsen during physical activity or when bending or lifting and can radiate down the backs of the legs. Those with low back pain often experience stiffness, decreased range of motion, misaligned posture, and muscle spasms. Low back pain can be acute (occur suddenly), chronic, or intermittent. Certain symptoms can also accompany low back pain and indicate that you should see a physician, including fever, major weight loss or gain, and weakness in the extremities.
Diagnosing the Cause of Low Back Pain at OrthoGeorgia
A thorough examination at OrthoGeorgia will help us determine the cause of your low back pain and help you take the right steps to find relief. We will start with a physical exam and a conversation with you about your symptoms, what makes them worse, and your medical history. The diagnostic process for low back pain is similar to the process for general back pain, with imaging tests often playing an important role. An x-ray can show broken bones or arthritis, while an MRI or CT scan can reveal herniated discs and other issues with the elements that make up the back and spine, including muscles, tissue, tendons, and ligaments. Blood or urine tests may also be ordered, as they can identify specific causes of low back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis and kidney stones. Those who choose OrthoGeorgia for comprehensive orthopaedic care have convenient access to diagnostic imaging services at our offices throughout Central GA. We offer digital x-rays at all of our locations, with MRI scans available in Macon and Warner Robins and CT scans in Macon. Our team members are trained to deliver the best images possible in a warm and comfortable environment.
Treatment for Low Back Pain in Central GA
Fortunately, lower back pain normally improves with at-home treatments, such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. Your doctor may also prescribe muscle relaxants if necessary. Since pain relievers treat the symptom but not the cause of pain, additional treatment may be required to address lower back pain. If the pain does not resolve on its own over time, your doctor may consider nonsurgical or surgical treatments.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Low Back Pain
The exact treatment plan for your low back pain will depend on the cause of your pain. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best next steps for your care at OrthoGeorgia. Low back pain can often be addressed with physical therapy, which helps to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and support the spine. Physical therapy can also help you to avoid future back injuries. Our physical therapy locations in Macon, Warner Robins, and Kathleen are staffed with licensed physical therapists and physical therapy assistants who are dedicated to the healthy and comfortable living of each patient they work with. Steroid injections may be recommended to decrease pain and inflammation in the lower back. However, surgery may be recommended if low back pain is severe and does not respond to nonsurgical treatment methods.
Surgery for Low Back Pain in Central GA
Surgery is rarely needed for low back pain. However, surgery may be suggested if pain severely interferes with your daily life or if an underlying condition causing the pain needs to be addressed via surgical methods. For example, low back pain caused by a herniated disc can often be treated via a surgical procedure that creates more space within the spine, such as a discectomy or laminectomy. Decompression surgery is often an ideal option if a pinched nerve causes low back pain. Spine stability issues affecting the lower back can be treated with spinal fusion surgery, which bridges the gap between spine segments and allows them to fuse together over time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to surgery for lower back pain, as the exact process chosen will depend on the cause of the pain and input from the patient. If your orthopaedic spine specialist recommends surgery for low back pain, you will have access to comprehensive care before, during, and after your procedure at OrthoGeorgia’s surgery center in Macon. OrthoGeorgia gives those in the area access to state-of-the-art spine care from our team of physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and rehabilitation specialists.
Other Spine and Back Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
Spine, back, and neck injuries and conditions can impact a person’s daily life and ability to participate in the activities they love. If you are experiencing back or neck pain that has lasted longer than a few days, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic spine specialist at OrthoGeorgia. Our team has extensive experience diagnosing and treating all manner of the spine, back, and neck conditions and injuries in Central GA, including: