1. Is there a way of dealing with back pain without recourse to surgery?
At SpineWorks we strongly believe that non operative methods should be used to treat low back pain in the first instance. Surgery is regarded very much as the last option once a person has exhausted conservative treatment.
With back pain in particular it is important to develop strong core muscles to stabilise the spine thereby strengthening the guy ropes around it. This helps reduce the load on the intervertebral discs and therefore the pain coming from them. The same is true of facet joints.
Core stability exercises include Pilates and use of the fitball.
2. If I am feeling pain then surely I am damaging myself?
This is a distinct old wives tale. Pain does not necessarily equal damage. Back and neck pain is mostly a musculo skeletal condition and is akin therefore to strain which occurs after exercise or indeed the symptoms that come on after hard exercise. The body can ache and be painful afterwards but no damage has been done and clearly exercise is important to increase strength and tolerance. Only severe pain will stop you doing any exercise at all but generally pain in this context particularly after an exercise program to build up muscles is not causing any damage. It is therefore much more appropriate to exercise hard and suffer some minor symptoms in an effort to prevent problems in the long term.
The condition that springs from that is fear avoidance in that because of the fear of doing damage the patient becomes very sedentary and does not exercise at all. This leads to a downward spiral of pain and disability. The ultimate result is couch potato!!
3. Do I have to take pain killers as I am worried that they will mask the pain?
It is far better to take adequate analgesia as this of course enables you to be more active in your everyday life. This means that you can take exercise and maintain more muscle tone and lubricate your articular cartilages which line the joints. It allows the discs to move and this turn gives them nutrition.
The pain killers prescribed by your doctor will not be that strong that they are likely to harm you. Therefore it is more beneficial for you to be as pain free as possible to allow you to live as normal a life. Again pain does not equal damage.
4. I have been told I need to increase my core stability - is this true?
Yes core stability is the term for building up the muscles around the spine. This is rather like developing a muscular corset around the spine to protect and hold it, allowing controlled movement.
During the ageing process discs deteriorate and age rather like car tyres. That is to say after a lot of mileage on a car tyre bald patches develop allowing air to leak which makes them less stable and ‘wobbly’. The discs can also lose height and bulge more which leads to increase wear on the facet joints at the back of the spine.
The best way of dealing with this is prevention therefore core stability exercises are very useful.
5. I have been told I need injections to mask the pain - what does this mean?
At SpineWorks injections we use for spinal pain are aimed at giving a window of opportunity to settle symptoms. Hopefully they reduce pain so that you can return to a more active lifestyle and return to an exercise program to increase core stability.