What Types of Colorado Doctors Should You see for Back Pain?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

July 10, 2022

If you’re suffering from back pain, whether it’s acute, subacute, or chronic, you’ll be relieved to  learn that a variety of specialists can assist you.

ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON

A surgeon who specializes in problems of the bones, joints, tendons,  ligaments, muscles, and nerves.

NEUROLOGIST

This is a medical expert who specializes in problems of the brain and nerve system; “Neurologists typically assess patients with radicular symptoms or more odd complaints,” says  Dr. Knight.

PHYSICAL THERAPIST

a movement specialist specializing in particular exercises and who,  according to Dr. Knight, is “the cornerstone of therapy for most patients arriving with  mechanical problems.”

CHIROPRACTOR

A specialist in spine manipulation and alternative treatments who, according to  Dr. Knight, “has a longstanding role in the examination and treatment of mechanical problems.”

ACUPUNCTURIST

According to Dr. Knight, an acupuncturist is “another modality in resolving  tough mechanical symptoms.” Acupuncturists are professionals who specialize in placing small needles into precise places on the body.

PREVENTING BACK PAIN

With so many causes of back pain, you may believe it’s unavoidable. It isn’t the case.

There are actions you may do to lower your chance of experiencing back pain and diminish the intensity of the symptoms. Making good lifestyle choices and taking care of your body are  important parts of preventing back discomfort.

REGULARLY EXERCISE AND STRETCH.

Muscles that are strong and sturdy act as armor for your Spine and its components. One of the  most protective things you can do for your back is to have a strong core. Just remember that  “core” refers to more than just your six-pack abs. You have deeper muscles, as well as obliques  on your side body and, of course, lower back muscles. To avoid back discomfort, strengthen  them all. The plank is a wonderful place to start for practically everyone since it’s a safe and  effective core exercise.

Tight muscles, like weak muscles, may lead to back discomfort. Tight hamstrings, like tight muscles in general, may throw off your body mechanics and cause back muscles to spasm, resulting in lower back discomfort. To loosen up, start with these five stretches.

LIFTING TECHNIQUES

One of the most frequent ways to injure your back is lifting heavy items incorrectly, and it’s also one of the simplest to prevent. Our first piece of advice is to get to know yourself and your limitations before diving into correct lifting techniques.

It’s one thing to attempt a deadlift personal record in the gym under the supervision of a qualified coach. It’s another thing entirely to attempt to get the sofa into your car on your own.

When lifting anything, use your leg muscles since they are some of the largest and strongest in your body. Maintain a straight spine while bending and extending your legs. You don’t want to depend on your Spine’s little stabilizer muscles, which aren’t meant to carry large weights.

You should not twist your Spine in the same way that you should not bend your Spine while lifting. In a twisting posture, the Spine is weaker, and you risk causing serious injury to spine  structures such as discs, spinal joints, and ligaments.

Although bad posture and body mechanics may not damage your back as poorly lifting something heavy, they will eventually do so. To lessen or eliminate this sneaky source of back  discomfort, be aware of your posture.

You want your joints stacked—that is, your shoulders over your hips—whether you’re standing  or sitting. This maintains your Spine’s natural position, allowing it to offer structure to the rest of  your body with ease and comfort.

When you move away from that ideal posture, your back’s small stabilizer muscles have to work extra to keep you steady, something they weren’t built for,  and this may result in muscular spasms or worse.

The ideal posture is to have your feet level on the floor and your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees when sitting. Maintain a centered position for your head above your neck. If you move it forward even a little, the stress on your cervical Spine is multiplied, which might cause neck  difficulties if you’re not cautious.

CHANGE YOUR FOOTWEAR.

Although you may feel at ease in flip-flops and look great in high heels, these two types of footwear are the most difficult for your back. High heels affect your movement mechanics in ways that might injure your back, while flip flops don’t provide adequate support.

Instead,  choose low-heeled, supportive shoes.

CLEAN UP YOUR EATING HABITS.

If you consume a conventional Western diet heavy in saturated fat and processed foods, adding more fruits and vegetables, switching to leaner cuts of meat, and avoiding processed foods may  help you beat back pain in two ways.

For starters, moving to low-calorie meals from higher-calorie foods makes it much simpler to  regulate your weight, and excess weight is one of the top modifiable causes of back pain, as Dr.  Knight has previously noted.

To burn off a 300-calorie doughnut, a 180-pound individual would  have to walk for roughly one hour…or just not eat the donut. “You can’t outrun your fork,” as the  saying goes. That’s exactly what it implies.

Another way that eating well may assist with back pain is that high-fat, high-sugar meals can  induce inflammation, which can contribute to back pain in various ways, from rheumatoid  arthritis flare-ups to intervertebral disc problems, as you now know. Changing your diet to more  closely resemble the original Mediterranean Diet will bring you near to your goal.

DON’T SMOKE

Smoking is terrible for your back because it affects the transport of nutrients to spinal tissues, as  Dr. Knight has previously stated. This may put you at risk for new back pain, exacerbate current  back pain, and ruin your spine surgery recovery. We recognize that quitting smoking is easier  said than done, but the US Department of Health and Human Services’ smokefree.gov website  contains information to assist you.

We understand that’s a lot of data to process—the back is a complicated structure. That is why  we have devoted an entire webpage to the Spine! But, as they say, knowledge is power, and this information may help you get a diagnosis for your back pain or learn more about a problem you  currently have.

We suggest seeing a spine expert near you learn more about back pain and its associated illnesses  and ailments.

CAR ACCIDENT HERNIATED DISC: SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, & TREATMENT

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about herniated discs, directly from the professionals.

The “spine” may seem to be a single solid yet flexible element, but it comprises many little moving pieces that must all function together for appropriate motion. However, a few performers  in that harmony are out of tune—namely, your discs, the cushion-like pads that run between your  vertebrae. They may hit the incorrect note if damaged and impinge on nerve roots growing from the spinal cord.

This somewhat common disorder may develop anywhere along the spine but is more likely to  affect the lower back or neck. It is also known as slipping discs or ruptured discs.

A herniated disc may not cause much discomfort — in fact, some individuals don’t even notice it  until they have imaging done for another reason, like back trauma — but other people, the  slippage pushes on nearby nerves. In an otherwise lovely performance, it can sure sound like a  violin shriek.

According to Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Colorado Springs, “it’s typically not the herniation itself that’s  troublesome, or that drives someone in to see a doctor.”

The issue arises when a portion of the disc compresses nerves. Dr. Anand explains, “That’s when there’s pain and loss of movement, and those are both big concerns that need to be treated.” Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, medication, and/or surgery.

HERNIATED DISCS: WHAT ARE THEY?

Spinal discs, as previously stated, separate each vertebra and absorb trauma. The bones in your  spine would grind against each other if you didn’t have them, and you wouldn’t be able to absorb  the stress of trauma and body weight.

These cushions provide more than simply protection; they also provide flexibility to the spine,  allowing for twisting and bending motions.

Discs, like yin and yang, are both soft and hard at the same time. The nucleus pulposus has a soft, gel-like interior and a strong outer layer termed annulus fibrosus. Each disc has fibers on the  exterior that help it adhere to the vertebrae and remain in place.

The gel-like core of the disc may “leak” into the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and  spinal fluid if the tough outer layer of the disc ruptures. When that gel and maybe a portion of the  outer disc and inner gel come into contact with the nerve roots that run down the spinal column,  pain occurs.

As a consequence, you may have severe back pain as well as arm or limb paralysis. Because  nerve impulses are being inhibited, numbness may result. The gel might emit a chemical irritant  that may lead to nerve irritation and discomfort adds to the confusion.

WHAT ARE THESYMPTOMS OF AHERNIATED DISC?

AGE

One’s age greatly influences disc herniation. Degenerative disc disease is a condition in which  the fluid capacity of your spinal discs progressively decreases over time. As the discs age,  minute fractures or rips might appear on the outer surface, allowing the gel-like inside to escape.

“Degeneration is [the most common reason] we observe,” says Dr. Anand. Consider the radial  fibers on the outside of an car tire. Tiny tears form in that fiber over time due to use, and  then [the tears] get bigger. A rip may develop large enough for what’s on the inside to come out  for some individuals.”

TRAUMA

The second most prevalent cause of a herniated disc is trauma. When you twist or lift anything  heavy, you might overstress a spinal disc. A disc may also rupture as a result of high-impact  trauma like a car accident or a tumble.

You’re also more likely to develop a herniated disc if you’re overweight or if other members of  your family have had one, according to a study.

WHAT SYMPTOMS DO YOU HAVE IF YOU HAVE A HERNIATED DISC?

Disc herniation may occur in any area of the spine, although the lower back and neck are the  most prevalent (the lumbar and cervical spine). Unlike the center of your back (the thoracic  spine), they are the most flexible sections of the spine, and since they allow for the greatest  mobility, they also have the most wear and tear, resulting in the loss of fluid content.

You may not have any symptoms if the herniation is minor or does not push on a nerve. Many individuals, according to Dr. Anand, have some degree of herniation.

Pain may be intense and relentless for persons who suffer herniations that impact nerves. It usually affects one side of the body and might radiate to an arm or leg (if the ruptured disc is in  the neck) (if a lumbar disc is herniated; sciatica is an example).

A herniated disc may also cause the following signs and symptoms: Pain when you cough, sneeze or move into certain postures

A dull aching on one side of your body

Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations, which are most often caused by a compressed  nerve.

Muscle weakness or spasms that may impair your ability to carry or grip goods

Balance concerns or limp due to weakness and/or discomfort Difficulty rising from a sitting position

Inability to stay in one position for a long time Poor posture

Loss of bowel or bladder control (which can indicate cauda equina syndrome, a medical emergency)

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A HERNIATED DISC?

You may see an orthopedist or your health care physician determine whether you have a herniated disc. If your low back discomfort is accompanied by radiating leg pain, you may have  a herniated disc.

The “straight leg raise test” will almost certainly be required by your doctor. Lift one leg straight  up while lying down. If you have a herniated disc compressing a nerve, moving your leg can  worsen the compression and bring discomfort down your leg. Numbness, weakness, and poor  reflexes will also be discussed with your doctor.

IMAGING STUDIES ARE FREQUENTLY ORDERED

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI) IS A KIND OF IMAGING THAT (MRI)

The spinal cord, surrounding soft tissue, and nerves are all visible with this equipment. It is the  most effective MRI examination for confirming a herniated disc diagnosis.

ELECTROMYOGRAM (EMG) AND NERVE CONDUCTION STUDIES (NCS) (EMG)

Electrical impulses are used in these examinations to determine how much a herniated disc may compress your nerves. NCS and EMG aren’t standard tests for diagnosing a herniated disc;

they’re only utilized if you’re experiencing signs of nerve discomfort, such as numbness and radiating pain. These tests are usually done only if MRIs and a physical exam are inconclusive  and your doctor suspects additional diseases.

X-RAYS

They aren’t the preferred imaging medium since this technique makes soft tissues like discs and nerves difficult to image. They may, however, be used as a screening technique to rule out other  conditions such as bone spurs or fractures.

WHAT ARE HERNIATED DISC TREATMENT OPTIONS THAT AREN’T SURGICAL?

The majority of persons with herniated discs react favorably to nonsurgical therapy and do not  need surgery.

“There isn’t always a single nonsurgical technique for dealing with herniation.” “Along with focused treatment like physical therapy, you’ll be urged to adopt certain healthy lifestyle behaviors,” says Nikhil Jain, MD, clinical spine surgery resident at the University of Louisville  School of Medicine. “There’s a lot you can do to enhance spinal function, even if heredity plays a  part.”

These are a few things you may do to feel better, in addition to physical therapy and pain- relieving drugs as prescribed by your doctor.

ACHIEVE A HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT

Excess weight may exacerbate compression in the spine, so  losing a few pounds might help you feel better.

GIVE UP SMOKING

Smoking is a key risk factor for degenerative disc disease, especially in the  lower back and neck, in addition to contributing to chronic illness.

ENGAGE IN LOW-IMPACT EXERCISE

Although bed rest may seem appealing, it may lead to  increased muscle stiffness and weakness.

WORK ON YOUR CORE

Your “girdle” of core-muscle support in your belly and lower back should  be strengthened. Moves that are safe for your doctor or physical therapist might recommend you.

Think about getting an epidural steroid injection: This form of injection, known as an ESI, may  be recommended by your doctor as a less invasive therapy for reducing inflammation in the afflicted nerve. Relief normally lasts three months, which may be enough time for your back to recover without the need for a second injection.

Herniated Discs Are Treated With What Surgical Procedures?

Surgery may be a viable alternative if you’ve exhausted nonsurgical options and are still experiencing difficulties after three months. It’s usually a quick outpatient treatment that takes  under an hour.

“Spinal surgery has progressed significantly in recent years. “Unless there is a problem, most individuals go home the same day and frequently within a few hours,” Dr. Anand explains.

A LUMBAR HERNIATED DISC MAY BE TREATED IN ONE OF TWO WAYS. MICRODISCECTOMY

To alleviate strain on the spinal column, this technique involves removing parts of the disc. Microdecompression is another term for microdiscectomy.

LAMINECTOMY

A laminectomy involves the removal of a part of the spinal bone. This allows the spinal cord and  nerves to move around freely without being squeezed.

For herniated discs in the cervical spine, there are two more choices (the neck) Cervical disc replacement or anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) (CDR)

Both ACDF and CDR procedures include removing the problematic disc and stabilizing the region with a bone graft (ACDF) or artificial disc (CDR).

MICROLAMINOFORAMINOTOMY

Your surgeon will remove a little piece of bone from your vertebra to make room for the pinched nerve during this procedure (s).

Most patients get immediate alleviation from symptoms such as pain, numbness, and paralysis  after either procedure. The nerves, on the other hand, may take many weeks or months to  completely recover.

You shouldn’t put off seeing a doctor about your back discomfort since there are many wonderful  choices for relieving pain from a herniated disc.

“The longer you delay, the harder it will be to get back on track,” Dr. Anand explains. “If you’re in pain and can’t live your life the way you want, go visit your doctor; there’s a lot we can do to assist.”

FAQS

A HERNIATED DISC IS CAUSED BY AGE

Normal disc aging, trauma, overexertion, obesity, and heredity all have a part to play. In many  circumstances, a herniated disc is caused by a series of events.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T CURE RUPTURED DISCS?

That depends on the severity of your herniated discs. It’s possible that you won’t require therapy  if you don’t have any symptoms. If you don’t obtain treatment for your symptoms, they can grow worse. This is partly because you may attempt to move less, weakening the back muscles that  support your spine.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO CURE HERNIATED DISCS WITHOUT SURGERY?

Many folks find comfort without the need for surgery. Changes in your lifestyle, such as modest  back-strengthening activities, may assist a lot. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-  counter pain medications and physical rehabilitation.

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