Back Pain Shouldn’t Change Your Life
Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions affecting nearly everyone at some point in their life. Most back pain lasts only a few days, but chronic back pain may indicate something more serious then a strained muscle.
Vera Burns had been experiencing severe chronic back pain for over a year. Spinal stenosis had pinched her sciatic nerves, limiting her normal activities. Spinal stenosis is a degenerative disorder resulting from the normal wear and tear on a person’s spine. As a matter of fact, spinal stenosis affects approximately five of every 1,000 Americans by the time they are in their mid-fifties. As the discs and ligaments between the vertebrae in the spinal column age, they become less pliable, lose fluid, thicken, and harden causing the discs to bulge into the spinal canal. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the lower half of the body as the nerves passing through the canal and nerve exit sites become more compressed.
While patients may have a consistent degree of back pain, spinal stenosis also can cause aching of the buttocks, back of the thighs, calves and shins, and sometimes the feet. Vera who enjoyed walking her dog, Daisy, became incapacitated by her the chronic back pain. Even though she was using strong narcotics prescribed by her local physician, her pain worsened. “The medication never touched the pain,” states Vera. “I could hardly walk around my house, let alone walk the dog.” She knew it was time to see a specialist when sitting was only time she was comfortable. Many persons with spinal stenosis are uncomfortable standing or walking and find pain relief only sitting or lying down in the fetal position.
Treating Spinal Stenosis
Many non-surgical treatment alternatives are helpful prior to considering surgery. These can include anti-inflammatory medications, bed rest, pain management, therapeutic injections, and physical therapy. If the pain isn’t relieved with these non-surgical options, surgery usually effectively eliminates pain.
A local orthopedic surgeon proposed Vera undergo a spinal fusion but she wanted a second opinion. Her son suggested she call Brian Andrews, M.D. “I see at least 500 patients a year with chronic back and leg pain due to spinal stenosis. They have had to alter their entire life to be comfortable, and are often unable to work or exercise,” states Andrews.
All spinal and disc conditions are diagnosed using advanced imaging techniques. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), provide detailed anatomic photos of spinal structures. Using these imaging tools, physicians can diagnose spinal conditions quicker and easier and confirm and locate injured area with pinpoint precision. “At California Pacific Neuroscience Institute (CPNI) we have some of the most modern imaging equipment available. I am able to identify the exact location of the problem and then perform the least invasive surgery for my patients,” explains Andrews. After Vera’s spinal decompression surgery she experienced immediate relieve. She could walk with out pain for the first time in over a year. “Dr. Andrews is a miracle worker,” claims Vera, who was concerned about having extensive back surgery. “When he told me he wanted to do the least amount of surgery that would cure the problem, I knew I had made the right choice.”
At CPNI we offer comprehensive spine care treating a full spectrum of spine conditions and disorders using leading-edge minimally-invasive procedures called micro-spinal surgery, as well as complex spinal surgeries. Micro-spinal surgery uses endoscopic techniques performed through tiny incisions. Patients experience substantially less post-surgical pain. “Before surgery I could hardly stand, now I can do what ever I want,” states Vera.