Answers to Common Questions About Back Pain
Questions and Answers by Dr. John Liguori
Q. My doctor told me that there was nothing left that he could offer to reduce my back pain. What should I do?
A. Get the opinion of another doctor who specializes in the treatment of back pain. Sometimes a fresh look at an old problem reveals effective treatments.
Q. My doctor told me to “learn to live with the pain”. How can I do this?
A. When this is all that is left, you need to know what relieves your pain and what makes it worse. Only you can determine this. If cutting the grass causes 24 hours of bed rest, find someone to cut your grass. You may find that resting each afternoon reduces your pain. Do whatever you can to reduce your pain without increasing your dependence on medication.
Q. When are narcotic pain medicines appropriate?
A. Narcotics include percocet, methadone, tylox, etc. In some cases when more conservative medications have failed, narcotics may be necessary. Narcotic pain medication can reduce your perception of pain and if dosed properly can increase your level of function.
I am concerned about addiction to narcotic medications, will this occur if I take prescription narcotics?
A. Although addictions occur in some cases, the majority of people treated with narcotics do not become addicted. In many cases where other treatments do not help, narcotic pain medicines are very appropriate and safe.
What is Osteoporosis?
A. Osteoporosis is a progressive problem of bone in which the mineral that makes the bone strong (calcium), leaves the bone. It is most often seen in postmenopausal women.
What role does osteoporosis play in back pain?
A. Osteoporosis by itself is usually not a cause of back pain. However as bone weakens it becomes more vulnerable to fractures. These fractures can become extremely painful. Most women should begin treatments to prevent osteoporosis at an early age. For specific treatments, see your doctor.
What is scoliosis?
A. Scoliosis is a condition of the spine in which the spine bends left to right or right to left.
Is scoliosis serious?
A. Scoliosis can be serious and if it is proven to be rapidly progressive, surgery may be necessary. When scoliosis is discovered in an adult it is usually a stable ( non progressive) type and surgery is usually not necessary.
My neighbor received trigger point injections (TPI’s) and her back improved. What are TPI’s?
A. TPI’s are injections of medication into trigger points. Trigger points are areas of muscle that when compressed by the examiner, feel very painful and pain travels to an additional nearby part of the body. In some cases, TPI’s can greatly reduce symptoms.
My doctor prescribed a muscle relaxer for my back pain. What should I expect?
A. First of all, not every doctor aggress that muscle relaxers are effective in reducing pain or even relaxing muscles. Many muscle relaxers have significant side effects including sleepiness, light headedness, low blood pressure, and confusion. .Muscle relaxers should be reserved for people only when they clearly have overactive muscles and the muscles are causing the pain. In addition, no one should drive a car while on muscle relaxers. One muscle relaxer, SOMA, has few documented benefits and is very habit forming.