Chronic pain is different from acute pain in that it continues even after the initial injury or disease has healed. With chronic back pain, pain signals can remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months and even years. For this reason, chronic back pain often disrupts patients’ daily lives and causes significant emotional distress. If you suffer from chronic back pain, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Susan A. Baker, a board-certified doctor of both internal medicine and rheumatology. A recipient of both the “Patient’s Choice Award” and “Most Compassionate Doctor” award, Dr. Baker is known for offering an exceptionally high level of empathy and patient care in Los Angeles.
Two Types of Chronic Back Pain
There are two types of chronic back pain to consider when assessing your condition. The first is chronic pain due to an identifiable cause. This type of pain is clearly generated by some specific condition or disease. The second type of chronic back pain occurs in the absence of any cause. These patients show no injury or evidence of damage, yet their nervous systems continue to misfire and create pain signals. In such cases, pain is the disease itself, rather than the symptom of an injury.
Common Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain
Do you have chronic back pain? Some of the most frequently occurring symptoms include :
- Mild to severe back pain that does not stop
- Shooting, burning, aching, or electrical pain
In addition to these symptoms, many chronic pain sufferers experience the following:
- Low energy or fatigue
- Weakened immune system
- Withdrawal from usual activates
Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Back Pain
Patients with chronic back pain used to have no choice but to live with their conditions. Fortunately, this has changed. Pain management treatments have advanced to the point where doctors can provide complete, or at least partial, relief for most patients.
The first step to treating your back pain is making an accurate diagnosis. This is done through a combination of medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic testing. This testing may include neurological tests done by a physician like Dr. Baker, as well as blood tests, and imaging tests. Common imaging tests include:
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electrodiagnostic procedures such as electromyography (EMG)
- Bone scans
- Ultrasound imaging
Dr. Baker will assess your rheumatology condition to determine which, if any, of these tests are right for you.
There are a variety of options for managing chronic back pain. Medications such as over-the-counter analgesics, opioids, anticonvulsants, and certain antidepressants have all been shown to provide effective relief for patients. Spinal manipulation may be used to adjust spinal structures and restore mobility. Other approaches to treating back pain include:
- Intervention therapy, in which pain is eased by blocking the nerve connection to specific areas in the back
- Traction, which uses weights to gradually pull the skeleton into alignment
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses electrical pulses to block pain signals to the brain
- Ultrasound, which utilizes ultrasound waves to relax the tissues inside the body
In serious cases that do not respond to other treatment, a variety of surgical options are also available. When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Baker will discuss all your treatment options and help you make the choice that’s right for you.
Chronic Back Pain Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What can I do to prevent chronic back pain?
A: The best way to prevent chronic back pain is to stay in shape and keep your back strong. This includes getting the recommended amount of exercise using low-impact techniques, eating right, and not smoking. You should also be sure to use proper techniques when lifting and good posture when sitting.
Q: When should I seek treatment for my chronic back pain?
A: If the pain does not respond to the usual treatments, persists for an abnormally long time, or affects your quality of life, it may be time to seek treatment.
Q: Who is at the highest risk for chronic back pain?
A: Nearly everyone experiences back pain at some point, but chronic pain occurs most often in men and women between 30 and 50 who live a sedentary lifestyle.
To learn more about chronic back pain treatment, visit med.stanford.edu
Consult a Los Angeles Back Pain Doctor
Does chronic back pain have a continuous and negative effect on your daily life? Has it left you feeling depressed or unable to participate in activities you once enjoyed? Then don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Baker, a back pain expert in Los Angeles who is renowned for her extraordinary patient care. Call today at (310) 274-7770 to set up your appointment and get started treating your pain.
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