Alternatives to Back Surgery

Chronic back pain is the most common type of chronic pain. It can cause significant disability, loss of function, and loss of time at work. Back surgery is often the only way to relieve pain. There are times and places for back surgery. It is used to treat severe radiculopathy (sciatica, pinched nerve) or spinal instability. It is important that patients understand there are viable alternatives to back surgery and that surgery is not always the best option.

What are the alternatives to back surgery?

Alternative treatments to back surgery are often beneficial for a large number of patients. Patients who are not candidates for back surgery can avoid the risks and recovery time associated with the procedure by choosing non-surgical or minimally invasive alternatives.

Patients with multiple chronic medical conditions known as comorbidities can have difficulty receiving anesthesia safely. Some patients prefer to postpone surgery until their lives are full. Patients may not wish to have surgery due to family obligations or travel plans. There are also patients who have already had back surgery and still experience pain. These patients are often looking for alternative options to avoid having to have another surgery.

These are all great reasons to look into pain relief options other than back surgery.

Pain Relief Options for Every Cause of Back Pain

Patients can suffer from chronic back pain or low back pain for many reasons. A comprehensive treatment plan will be based on the type and duration of the injury as well as patient goals. Here are some options and approaches that can help reduce or treat chronic lower back pain.

Spinal Arthritis and Spondylosis

Degeneration of the spine or facet joints can cause back pain. This disease is also known as spinal arthritis, spondylosis, and facet joint arthropathy. The pain can be felt along the hips and legs, as well as on the affected sides of the spine. Standing, walking, and arching the back can all make the pain worse.

Lumbar facet block, lumbar medial branch blocks and lumbar joint injections are all terms used to describe similar procedures that treat pain caused by arthritis in the spine.

The most common way to treat spinal arthritis is with a series of injections like the ones below:

  • Step 1 – Medial Branch Nerve or Lumbar Facet Block
    • A diagnostic lumbar nerve block or medial branch neuro block is first performed. The procedure temporarily blocks or numbers the affected nerves. This procedure is used to confirm and determine if the nerves are causing the pain. The relief will only last for approximately 8 hours.
  • Step 2: Repeat the Lumbar Facet and Medial Branch Nerve Bloke
    • The first procedure is repeated. To confirm the root cause of your pain, two sets of diagnostic (test-injection) injections are performed on two occasions. This is a positive test if the two blocks (steps 1 and 2) have been successful in temporarily relieving a significant amount of your pain. A radiofrequency ablation is an option at this point.
  • Step 3 – Lumbar Medial Branch Radiofrequency Ablation
    • Radiofrequency (RFA), or radiofrequency ablation, can be used to provide long-lasting relief. Radiofrequency ablation uses a needle that heats up. The needle heats up and then stuns or burns the medial branch neurons that lead to the joints. Ablation stops pain sensations from the nerves and joints of the back. It is usually more than six months.

A medical professional wrote this article at Florida Medical Pain Management. Florida Medical Pain Management is proud to offer comprehensive pain management services to a diverse group of patients. Patients at Florida Medical Pain Management can get help managing hip, knee, leg, and neck pain. The practice also offers comprehensive arthritis management, along with treatments for auto accidents, sports, and work injuries. Click Here to learn more!