The number of people experiencing chronic back pain is on the rise, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) estimates 80 percent of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.
September is Pain Awareness Month and neurosurgeons affiliated with Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital hope people will talk with a physician about all their options for treating back pain.
“Advancements in medicine over the past 20 years have shortened the recovery time for back and neck surgery. Our minimally invasive procedures make very small incisions, and based on the type of surgery, many people are up and walking around the same day,” says Victor Lo, MD, MPH, a neurosurgeon affiliated with Mischer Neuroscience Associates-Katy. “Fortunately, these advancements also mean we have a wide variety of options for treating back pain that don’t require surgery.”
The NINDS classifies chronic back pain as pain that persists for 12 weeks or more.
“Many cases of back pain will resolve themselves over time. However, when the pain is interfering with every day activities for several weeks or requiring increasing amounts of pain medications, it’s time to see a physician for an evaluation. It is also important to note that pain shooting down one or both legs may be due to lower back issues,” added Dr. Lo.
Dr. Lo says age-related changes are the biggest cause of back pain, but it can also be caused by traumatic injury, malignancy, or spinal deformities.
“Urgent warning signs include progressive weakness in the legs, acute changes in bowel or bladder function, and decreased sensation in the buttocks region, genitals, and inner thigh. If you experience these symptoms, you’ll want to see a physician who specializes in neurosurgery.”
The neuroscience program at Memorial Hermann Katy brings together a collaborative group of fellowship-trained, board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists and pain management/rehabilitation specialists, supported by a highly trained, specialized and dedicated nursing staff. As part of the Memorial Hermann Health System, Memorial Hermann Katy draws on the extensive clinical resources of its sister hospital at the Texas Medical Center and the highly acclaimed Mischer Neuroscience Institute. In cases where additional treatment is critical, 24/7 Memorial Hermann Life Flight transportation is available.