CONDITIONS AND PROCEDURES

Lower Back Pain

What is lower back pain?

Lower back pain can arise for a number of reasons due to strains or muscle sprains. However, chronic back pain can become a growing concern as a result of a mechanical issue of the spine. The cause of lower back pain may be due to a herniated or slipped disc, sciatica, spinal stenosis (restricted space in the spinal canal), arthritis or a spinal infection.

Several other related conditions, such as arthritis, spondylitis (joint inflammation between the spinal bones), a degenerative condition known as spondylosis and long-term fibromyalgia, can cause lower back pain.

What are the symptoms?

Disabling pain in the lower back

Prickling sensation in the feet and legs (indicative of sciatica)

Muscle weakness or cramping (spinal stenosis)

Abnormal spinal curvature due to conditions such as kyphosis, scoliosis and lordosis can increase pressure on the spine and lead to back pain.

How do you treat lower back pain?

Over-the-counter pain relief medications are only a temporary solution for chronic lower back pain. Lying on your back can increase the level of pain experienced, which is why permanent treatment for the condition should remain a priority. Non-surgical treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, steroid therapy to reduce inflammation, corticosteroid injections that alleviate pain around the affected region and physical therapy to strengthen the back’s muscles.

However, should back pain persist and fail to respond to conservative treatment methods, Dr Bomela will have no other option but to perform the following surgical procedures:

  • Discectomy
    A discectomy aims to alleviate nerve root pressure by removing a portion of the lamina, the overhead or covering of the spinal canal that provides protection from behind the spinal cord.
  • Foraminotomy
    A foraminotomy is a surgery that exposes the foramen, the tiny opening in the spinal canal where the nerve roots pass through.
  • Laminectomy
    A laminectomy is the surgical dissection of the lamina to create more space in the spinal canal. A laminectomy is commonly referred to as decompression surgery.
  • Spinal fusion
    Spinal fusion is a highly favoured surgical procedure that strengthens and stabilises the spine. Two or more spinal discs are removed, and the vertebrae are joined using grafts or metallic screws.

FAQ

1. Is lower back pain considered serious?

In most cases, lower back pain can be treated through conservative or surgical means. In some cases, lower back pain can get better without surgery. However, when the pain starts to occur, this is a sign that something is wrong with the body.

 

2. What commonly causes lower back pain

A soft tissue injury and mechanical issues affecting the spine are the leading causes of lower back pain. Injuries include severely damaged intervertebral discs, nerve root compression and poor movement of the spinal joints.

3. How do I know I need to see a doctor for lower back pain?

You need to see Dr Bomela when back pain persists for two weeks and prevents you from enjoying your usual day-to-day activities.