Dr. Jeffrey Phelps, the Medical Director for North Hills Hospital’s Spine Program, understands just how common and debilitating back pain can be. In fact, the large majority of most adults will experience some type of back pain in their lifetime. While the causes of this type of pain can vary, Dr. Phelps shares some important insight on our blog today about back pain treatment.

What are the common causes of back pain?
Dr. Phelps explains that the majority of back pain cases are usually due to arthritis or muscle strain and sprain. Both of these causes are typically inoperable but do respond to specialized physical therapy exercises and medication. Back pain that results from a pinched nerve may not be relieved without surgery, however. Be sure to get your back pain evaluated by a specialist to find out the cause and to determine an appropriate treatment plan.

When is back surgery necessary?
If physical therapy and medication do not resolve the condition, more invasive procedures may be considered. Dr. Phelps recommends getting an immediate evaluation for surgery if a patient experiences the following:

  • Pain that does not improve over time
  • Pain that worsens over time
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Numbness in the feet or legs
  • Bowel or bladder difficulties

What is minimally invasive back surgery?
According to Dr. Phelps, there have been significant medical advances in back surgery during the past 5 to 10 years. Minimally invasive procedures offer patients the following benefits:

  • Shorter recovery periods
  • Immediate treatment as opposed to extended treatment periods
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Smaller incision sites and less scarring

For those who can't tolerate traditional surgery or extensive anesthesia, minimally invasive surgery offers these patients a chance at back pain relief, also.

What can patients expect from recovery?
Along with a shorter recovery period, patients who have had surgery to relieve a compressed nerve will feel 90% better within one day. Dr. Phelps explains that nerves do need time to heal from extended compression. But newer surgical techniques now allow patients to resume normal daily activities within days to weeks.

Who are the back pain experts?
Dr. Phelps advises patients with back pain to do their research and seek out medical care from qualified, fellow-trained spine surgeons only. Beware of gimmick offers that promise back pain relief.

North Hills Hospital specializes in non-invasive techniques for back pain relief and minimally invasive spine surgery. Our physicians will review each patient's unique condition and offer conservative treatment options before considering surgery. If you would like to meet with Dr. Phelps, please call 1-855-NHILLS for a physician referral.

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When Do You Need to See an Orthopedic Specialist?