Recurring pain in the back should not be ignored. Instead, it should be examined and treated by a back and neck pain doctor NYC who is properly trained to manage pain. But, if the pain results from inappropriate body mechanics, you can prevent it by stopping certain body movements. As well, you can correct your poor posture and learn how to safely lift bulky objects. By so doing, you can protect your sensitive back from strains and sprains. If there is a way you can limit your repetitive tasks that can gradually damage your back, go ahead. For instance, you can order ergonomically made pieces of office furniture that could help you correct your posture and keep out of risk of suffering from further back damage.
As well as the medical support offered by your back pain specialist NYC, you can learn simple tricks of offering your lumbar spine (lower back area) and lower abdominal muscles additional support. Some anecdotal case studies indicate that lumbar spine supports can reduce back injury and pain, if combined with posture training programs. All the same, some researchers caution that excessive use of supportive lumber belts may worsen backache by rendering your back muscles dormant and weak.
How a NYC back pain specialist will diagnose your backache
Once you realize that you cannot live with your backache anymore, go to the best back pain specialist NYC. He or she will be glad to examine your back and find the main cause of pain. The process includes checking your medical history and carrying out physical exams. During a physical exam, the back and neck pain doctor NYC will ask a number of questions regarding your back problem. These include:
- How did your pain start? Were you doing a certain activity that was a bit strenuous or did the pain start for no known reason at all?
- Which area of your back did the pain begin? Was it your upper back, mid-back or lower back?
- How severe was your pain when it appeared? Was it dull and consistent or sudden and sharp?
- For how long have you been having back pain symptoms? Has it been a period of four to six weeks or up to twelve weeks?
- Has your backache interfered with your dairy movements or put you to total bed rest?
- Have you ever had a previous episode of back pain? If so, what did your back pain specialist NYC say about the cause of that backache?
- Do you live with a health condition that might affect your back area?
In addition to a thorough back assessment, your back and neck pain doctor NYC expert might perform neurologic tests that will disclose the real cause of pain and what the best treatment would be. If you have chronic lumbar spine pain, it will be hard to find out the real cause even after rigorous testing is done. In such a case, a NYC back pain specialist might order proper imaging tests to be able to exclude given causes of backache: spinal stenosis and tumors. Normally, here is a range of tests performed by back specialists to determine the exact cause of back discomfort.
- X-rays – These are often the first imaging tests done to determine if there are injured vertebrae or fractured bones in your back. As they disclose normal bony structures, fractures and vertebral misalignment just fine, X-rays are ordered first. Unfortunately, X-rays don’t capture your soft tissues like ligaments, muscles, tendons and bulging discs.
- Computerized tomography or CT scan – This test is normally done when a back pain specialist NYC discovers that a patient might have a raptured disc, tumor or spinal stenosis. The CT scan makes use of a computer to make a 3-D image from a sequence of 2-D dimensional images.
- MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) – This test uses a magnetic force rather than radiation to make a computer-generated picture. A MRI scan is better than an X-ray when the back pain specialist NYC doctor wants to capture the images of muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. If there is an infection, inflammation, tumor, a herniated or ruptured disc and/or compressed nerve, a MRI scan will reveal it while an X-ray will not. Another point to note is that a Magnetic Resonance Imaging is that it is a non-invasive method of identifying a problem that might have to be removed right away via surgery. But, if you are just in the beginnings of your lumbar spine pain, a MRI scan will not be needed.
- Discography – This one is only done when other diagnostic methods fail to locate the real cause of backache. Normally, an injection using a contrast dye is given into the spinal disc believed to trigger your back pain (mostly lower back pain). Then the pressure of the fluid in the injected disc will generate the symptoms you have been having only if this particular disc is the origin of your suffering. After the injection is administered, your NYC back pain specialist will take CT scans and the dye will help them see the injured areas clearly. When lumbar surgery pain is the only option left after all the traditional back pain treatments fail, discography can help.
- Myelograms – This type of test is done to improve the diagnostic imaging of CT scans and X-rays. Still, a NYC back pain specialist gives a shot of a contrast dye into the spinal canal. Then, they are able to view the damage that might have been triggered by herniated discs or fractured bones to the spinal cord and nerves.
- Bone scans – These are used to identify and monitor a problem in a bone: fracture, infection or disorder. They entail a situation where the best NYC back pain specialist administers a tiny quantity of a radioactive material into a patient’s bloodstream via an injection. This material then accumulates in specific bone areas where there are abnormalities. The scanning process discloses areas of irregular bone metabolism and/or abnormal blood flow, as well as measures the scope of a joint disease.
- Electrodiagnostics procedures – These are tests for lumbar radiculopathy. They entail EMG (electromyography), EP (evoked potential) studies and NCS (nerve condition studies). The role of EMG is to examine the electrical activity inside a certain muscle and to detect if the weakness in that muscle is caused by problematic nerves. A back pain specialist NYC inserts ultra fine needles into a muscle to gauge the electrical activity arising from the patient’s brain or spinal cord and travelling to a given area of the body. On the other hand, NCS tests are done along with the EMG to rule out health conditions that can be similar to radiculotherapy. During the diagnosis, a back doctor places two pairs of electrodes on the surface of the skin where the problematic muscle is. A mild shock often results from the first set of electrodes and it arouses the nerve that serves the particular muscle. The second pair records the electrical signals produced by the nerve, and your NYC back pain specialist can use this data to ascertain the nerve damage that decelerates the conduction of the nerve signal. As for EP studies, a doctor uses two pairs of electrodes where one pair is used to arouse a sensory nerve and the other pair(placed on your scalp) records the speed of the nerve signal transmissions to the brain.
- Blood test – A blood test is rarely used to diagnose the root cause of back pain. All the same, it may be done to detect an infection, inflammation or arthritis. There are different types of blood tests that can be recommended by the best back and neck pain doctor NYC. These tests are erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, and complete blood count. Since some people may feel pain in the back because of having reactive arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, blood tests that can identify HLA-B27 may be done.
- Ultrasound imaging – This test is also called ultrasound scanning or sonography. It makes use of high-frequency sound waves to pick up images from inside the body. Echoes that are triggered by the sound waves are then recorded and shown as a live visual image. There are times when sonography can show tears in muscles and other soft tissues as lumps or masses in your back.
After the cause of your backache is discovered, the next obvious step is determining the best treatment technique. There are different methods of eliminating or managing back pain and each back pain specialist NYC is likely to provide them. Doctors usually pick the right technique based on whether you have acute, sub-acute or chronic back pain. Surgery is usually the last option. It is recommended only when there is enough proof that nerve damage is getting worse or when diagnostic test results indicate that existing structural alterations can only be solved via surgery. Otherwise, your NYC back pain specialist will use conventional backache treatment options. These are:
- Cold or hot compression packs – These do not eliminate the root cause of pain in the back; however, they ease the pain and reduce the level of inflammation. If you have any amount of back pain, you can use either the packs to improve your chances of walking again with ease.
- Exercises – If you want to improve your backache, get in the move. Bed rest will only aggravate your pain as it might tighten and weaken your back muscles. Additionally, total bed rest can make you feel depressed and might put you in danger of developing blood clots in your legs. With the help of your back and neck pain doctor NYC, you can find a physical therapist who can teach you how to do the right stretching exercises for back pain. Strengthening workouts should also be done by those with sub-acute or chronic backache or skeletal irregularities. These exercises are known to enhance muscle balance, posture and coordination. Yoga might as well boost your chronic pain in the long run.
- Medicines – Acute and chronic lumbar spine pain can be relieved with drugs that may be bought straight from a local pharmaceutical shop or from a NYC back pain specialist doctor’s office. But drugs should be taken carefully when one is pregnant or lactating or if one is already taking other medicines to cure another health issue. Contraindications such liver damage, and gastrointestinal ulcers and internal bleeding are real. Generally, great NYC back pain specialist clinics prescribe analgesic drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The former are pain killers and include prescribed opioids like morphine, oxycodone and codein and Over-The-Counter drugs like aspirin and acetaminophen.
As excessive usage of opioids can cause the body to develop resistance, causing people to need it in higher doses, it should only be taken under strict NYC back pain specialist doctor’s supervision. NSAIDs are drugs that alleviate pain and inflammation and include prescriptions such as COX-2 inhibitors and OTC drugs like naproxen sodium and ibuprofen. However, these have side effects when used regularly, including stomach inflammation and ulcers, fluid retention, diarrhea, and heartburn. Though seldom, NSAIDs can trigger cardiovascular and kidney problems. Anticonvulsants drugs can also be prescribed when the cause of pain is radiculopathy. Antidepressants that are usually prescribed for chronic lumbar spine pain are helpful. However, if your pain is non-specific, these drugs may not be supportive. As for counter-irritants like topical sprays and creams, they are great for nerves stimulation beneath your skin. Furthermore, there are topical products provided by back pain specialist NYC hospitals that have analgesic drugs effects.
- Spinal manipulation and mobilization – These techniques should only be performed by doctors who have formal chiropractic training and expertise. Your back pain specialist NYC can recommend the right professional. During treatment, the doctor uses his or her hands to massage and stimulate your spine and the neighboring tissues. Rapid movement is what manipulation is all about while mobilization involves slow movements. Chiropractic treatments offered by the leading NYC back pain specialist are known to benefit most people with chronic back pain. Moreover, if one has arthritis, a back tumor, a fracture or spinal compression issues, spinal manipulation and mobilization technique does not help.
- Traction and acupuncture – Traction involves use of weights and pulleys to exert a consistent or sporadic force to slowly align your skeletal structure. There are no reliable research studies indicating that traction provides long-term benefits. As for acupuncture, research shows that it can be moderately successful when one has chronic low back pain. But, there are back pain specialist NYC doctors who support and those who oppose its effectiveness.
- Epidural steroid injections – These are only provided when one has sciatica pain and lumbar discomfort. The injections provide temporary pain relief and cannot be used each time the pain comes back. These steroid injections tend to worsen the pain caused by spinal stenosis, according to studies.
- Nerve block therapies – These can be administered in the form of soft tissue injections(steroid, local anesthesia drugs or botulinum toxin) to more complicated nerve root blocks and spinal cord stimulation. Sometimes the nerve blocks are offered directly via catheters to reduce chronic back pain.
Besides the afore-mentioned back pain treatment techniques, NYC back pain specialist doctors offer biofeedback and TENs (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) options. It is extremely imperative to make sure that you seek help from your back pain specialist NYC clinic when you notice that your backache does not go away. The doctor who will be assigned your case will carry out a complete diagnosis of your problem and establish the best way to treat you. Many back pain specialist NYC clinics provides surgery and all traditional therapies, ensuring that your back pain is well managed.