Menu Patient Education Materials Conditions Common Back Injuries Neck and Upper Back Middle Back Lower Back Symptoms Back Pain Numbness Leg Pain FAQs Treatments & Technology Back Exercises Back Pain: Caregiver Information Mazor X Physical Therapy Spine Surgery Recovery FAQs: Back Pain, Treatment Options and Surgery Back pain can be bothersome, painful and downright confusing. As you navigate your treatment – whether you are managing your treatment at-home or with a provider that specializes in back pain – you will likely have many questions about your back pain symptoms, causes and treatment options. And if you find yourself preparing for back surgery, then you will likely have many questions about that as well. Here, you can find answers and more information for common questions about back pain, treatment and preparing for surgery. Learn more about: Back Pain, including symptoms and possible causes Back Pain Treatment Options Back Surgery Cervical Thoracic Lumbar Get answers to your questions about spine surgery today. If you have any additional questions about back pain, or would like to speak to someone about your back pain, contact the Spine Center at St. Elizabeth to schedule a consultation today. Our team offers a comprehensive approach to treatment, providing you with convenient access to the care and treatment you need to help address your back pain. Call us today at (859) 212-7000. MEET OUR NON-SURGICAL SPINE DOCTORS MEET OUR SURGEONS Frequently Asked Questions about Back Pain What is causing my back pain? Back pain is very common: Approximately 8 out of 10 Americans will experience back pain. Causes, symptoms and treatments can range greatly between individuals based on medical history, type of injury and how their body responds to treatment. However, back pain is generally a result of an injury or a condition, such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Back injuries may include a herniated disc, compression fracture and muscle strain or sprain. Learn more about these common back injuries. Age is another common culprit of back pain. Our spine experiences the same wear and tear as the rest of our body. The discs between vertebrae can shrink or deteriorate, which causes pain from bones rubbing against each other. This is called degenerative disc disease. Other common causes of back pain may include: Spinal stenosis Pinched nerve Spondylolisthesis Osteoporosis Sciatica Low back pain These are just a few common causes of back pain. Only a provider can identify the true cause of back pain. Certain risk factors can also put you at higher risk of experiencing back pain. Those include weight, poor nutrition and smoking. What are common symptoms of back pain? Symptoms of back pain vary greatly between individuals, but may include: Burning or numbness Restricted movement Dull, achy feelings Sharp, acute pain Leg pain How is back pain diagnosed? Your provider will provide a comprehensive evaluation to determine the source of your back pain. This will include a physical, a complete questionnaire to understand when your back pain began and possible causes. Your provider may recommend additional testing or refer you to a back pain specialist, such as one at the Spine Center at St. Elizabeth Florence. Frequently Asked Questions About Treating Back Pain What are common treatment options for back pain? Treatment for back pain can vary greatly. Common treatment options include: Rest Back brace Epidural steroid injections Pain medication Physical therapy Minimally invasive procedures Surgery These are just a few treatment options available to people suffering from back pain. Only a provider that specializes in back pain can create a treatment plan that’s right for you. Your plan should take into consideration the source of your back pain, your medical history, past treatment and goals for treatment. Is physical therapy right for me? Physical therapy is a common and very effective approach to treating back pain. During physical therapy, your therapist will teach you stretches and exercises to strengthen your back, and also teach you how to modify every day activities to alleviate your back pain. Will I need back surgery to treat my back pain? Fortunately, back pain is often treated without back surgery. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan customized for your pain. However, if you do not respond to a conservative treatment approach, your doctor will discuss surgery options with you. Frequently Asked Questions about Back Surgery How do I know if back surgery is right for me? Only you can decide if back surgery is right for you. Your doctor will work closely with you to navigate the pros and cons of back surgery. However, you will be empowered to make the final decision. You should approach your decision with confidence, and completely understand the limitations of surgical and non-surgical treatment. If you choose to have spine surgery, your physical condition and your mental attitude will play a role in your body’s ability to heal. You should have realistic goals and work steadily to achieve those goals. The decision to have or not to have spinal surgery includes weighing the risks and benefits involved. Be sure to ask your spine surgeon questions about anything you do not understand. When will my pain go away? Back surgery can help relieve pain, but it may not make you feel completely pain free. You should, however, experience reduced pain and an improved quality of life. It can take months to heal completely from back surgery. You will likely experience pain and soreness for several weeks. Everyone is different, so pain will vary patient to patient. Post-operative pain may include: Pain from your surgical site Sore throat Pain related to your body’s position during surgery Is there anything I can do that will damage my post-operative spine? Your post-operative spine will be very strong and secure after surgery. However, there are some precautions that must be followed to ensure that your spine stays in good condition. Your nurses and physical therapists will review these with you. In general, quick sharp movements, falls, bending and twisting of the trunk/neck and pushing/pulling of the arms should be avoided. Your nurses and physical therapists will teach you proper body mechanics in order to prevent injury. Will I need an assistive device after surgery? Most patients will be up and walking the day of surgery. Movement is key to helping your body heal from surgery and strengthen your muscles. Your physical therapist will work with you to determine if you need to use any assistive device, such as a neck or back brace, a walker or cane. When will I get to go home after back surgery? Your discharge after back surgery will mostly depend on your type of surgery. Your attitude and willingness to follow instructions from your care team, including your nurses, surgeon and physical therapist, play a big role in getting you home sooner rather than later. You must be able to do the following before you can return home: Get into and out of a chair and bed by yourself Walk independently (with or without an assistive device) Use the restroom, including sitting on a toilet and standing up from the toilet Understand exercise program and precautions What home precautions must I follow after my back surgery? After your back surgery, it’s important for you to be careful as you ease back into your regular routine. Your surgeon and physical therapist will encourage you to do simple, easy activities and exercises everyday. However, it is important for you to be careful as you navigate your home after surgery. Precautions may include: Keep pets in a separate room until you are settled. This will keep them from jumping on you as you arrive home. Once you are seated and comfortable, allow your pet to come and visit with you. Sit in a sturdy chair that has arms and is easy to stand from. Avoid sitting in low, overstuffed chairs or sofas and rocking chairs. If your preferred chair is too low, you may need to put a pillow in the cushion of the seat. Ride home in a mid-size or larger car that is easy to get in and out. Make sure you get in the car safely: o First, ask your drive to make sure the passenger seat is back as far as possible. o Then, stand with your back toward the car. o Next, sit down gently and carefully scoot back into the seat o Then, swing your legs into the car o Finally, position yourself comfortably in the seat. Avoid bending, twisting and lifting for the first few weeks after surgery. Plan on having assistance for the first 5-7 days after surgery Remove throw rugs in your home Keep items you need close by, such as on a nightstand, end table or TV tray if needed. When should I call the doctor? Your doctor and medical team will go over specific discharge instructions after your surgery. However, if you experience any of the following, you should call your doctor immediately: Severe pain not controlled by medications Fever over 101 degrees Wound becomes red, starts to drain or opens You should also call your doctor if you have any questions about your recovery. Healing after surgery often takes time, patience and a commitment from you on following all discharge instructions, including daily exercises as outlined by your doctor or physical therapist. Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments and physical therapy sessions so you can be sure your body, and back, heals and recovers. What else do I need to know about recovering from back surgery? There are many things you can do to prepare for surgery and help with recovery after your procedure. Learn more about recovering from back surgery, including specific discharge instructions for back and neck surgery.