Non-Surgical
Low Back Pain Treatments

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Strains, Sprains, and Spasms Treatments in Los Angeles and Orange County

According to Web.MD, almost everyone will have low back pain at one point in their lives. There are two major categories of low back pain, acute and chronic. Acute low back pain generally comes suddenly and can last days to weeks, rarely a couple months – but ultimately goes away and has no residual or lingering symptoms. Sometimes, this can be described as your “back going out.” Although this can resolve with rest and conservative care, we should be paying close attention if acute low back pain episodes are happening frequently. Chronic low back pain is defined as pain that continues in one way shape or form for longer than 3 months, and according to the NIH, about 20% of people with acute low back pain go on to develop chronic low back pain. 

What is it?

Acute or chronic low back pain can have many different causes, but some of the most common things that patients are told is that their pain is coming from a strain, sprain, or spasm. Strains and sprains are pulled muscles or ligaments respectively that can occur with an injury. A spasm can occur if the muscles are involuntarily cramping, twitching or freaking out because of an injury or repetitive stress. Although these words are commonly used to explain your low back pain, the truth is that strains, sprains, and spasms usually occur because of an underlying reason such as an injury to the disc, joints, or nerves  

Symptoms

Low back pain usually presents as pain… in the low back. BUT, pain from the low back can actually present in other areas such as the ribs, sides, hips, buttocks, pelvic floor or down the legs! Pain can be one-sided, both-sided, or even alternate sides. Symptoms can be sharp, shooting, dull, aching or cramping. Low back pain can be associated with other symptoms as well, including radiating pain, numbness, or tingling, weakness, or even bowel or bladder changes. Sudden weakness or bowel/bladder incontinence may be an emergency and warrants immediate medical attention. 

Diagnosis

Since low back pain can come from many possible causes, if you have chronic low back pain or repetitive episodes of acute low back pain, then a thorough physical examination +/- analysis of advanced imaging is often necessary to determine exactly what is going on. It is important to note, however, that looking at an x-ray or MRI alone can NOT tell you the cause of your symptoms. In fact, it is extremely common to find things going on in imaging even in the absence of pain!

Treatments

It is an all too common myth that acute low back pain requires bed rest. In fact, there is research that shows that extended rest beyond a couple days can actually make the situation worse! With the exception of situations with red flags such as weakness or bowel/bladder incontinence, 1-2 days of relative rest is the most that is recommended and patients should otherwise get moving sooner than later. Ice or heat may be helpful, and we often recommend my patients stick with over the counter Tylenol – and avoid Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen) because they have extensive side effects and may interfere with healing. The most important (and in my honest opinion underutilized) treatments for low back pain include exercise guided by a physical therapist and anti-inflammatory nutrition. We often also incorporate hands-on therapy with Osteopathic Manipulation or referral to a trusted DO, Chiropractor or other manual therapist. Another complementary therapy that has supportive research is acupuncture. If needed, we use regenerative injection treatments to treat the whole Functional Spinal Unit.

Lower Back Pain

  • Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Arthritis

  • Stenosis

  • Disc Tear

  • Sciatica or Pinched Nerve, also known as Radiculitis or Radiculopathy

  • Disc Herniation 

  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain, Sprain or Dysfunction

  • Back Sprain, Strain or Spasm

  • Spondylolisthesis

Risks with Traditional Treatments

Unfortunately, it is less common that patients get the above, and more common that standard traditional treatment includes opioid pain medications, palliative short-term and risky cortisone injections, and then surgery. Although these options may actually be reasonable for specific situations, it is our belief that these treatments are used way too excessively and carry real risks.

A pain medication, for example, may be helpful for an acute low back injury, but should not be used long term. The opioid epidemic is a real thing – there should be no doubt that chronic opioid use can lead to addiction – but not enough people talk about the fact that opioid pain medications can also cause hypersensitivity to pain called opioid hyperalgesia. This means that patients that are taking opioid pain medications can actually feel more pain! 

Cortisone injection may be the correct choice for a young healthy patient in pain. But outside of a small set of patients, these only last for a short period of time and have significant side effects including hormonal changes and even decreased healing! For example, cortisone is known to increase blood sugar levels in diabetes, repeated or high doses of cortisone injections in post-menopausal females can actually cause osteoporosis that leads to osteoporotic fractures, and there are multiple reports of cortisone injections causing tissue damage. That said, cortisone should be used with caution. 

And finally, surgery may be absolutely necessary – especially when there are urgent situations such as progressive weakness or emergent situations such as bowel or bladder incontinence. However, any surgery – but especially for the spine – is not a small endeavor! Surgery carries real risks including chronic pain, worsening degeneration, paralysis and even death. While there are risks in every type of treatment, something as irreversible as surgery should be a last resort if possible. 

Affiliations

Dr. Shounuck Patel, DO is a leader in the field of orthopedic regenerative medicine.

testimonials

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Dr. Patel and all of his staff will definitely ease your pain and worries. Having Spinal Stenosis, knee problems as well as ankle problems they have made my life so much better. My last treatment was 2 years and 3 months ago. I just did a second treatment this week. Before that I was getting spinal epidurals every 3 months and living on ibuprofen and pain prescriptions. I haven't had that anymore. It's been 2 years and 3 months. He offers so much care and spends all the time in the world with you.
Deby Pierce
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My meniscus was disintegrating. After my stem cell/ platelet treatment, is now whole. It is a constant source of wonder to me that sidewalk curbs which used to seem like climbing Mount Everest are no longer a challenge. Seven months out, I’m still experiencing small improvements in mobility that I didn’t even realize I had lost. An altogether life-affirming experience.
Mary Allwright
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I am extremely thankful for everything Dr. Patel and his staff have done for my husband. Dr. Patel was very thorough during the evaluation and answered all of our questions very carefully. During my husband’s Spine PRP procedure, everyone made him feel very comfortable and everything went very smooth. My husband is now doing great. Thank you so much for everything!
Eva Cardenas
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I owe Dr. Patel my life. When I came to him I was in level 10 pain constantly, and had been bed ridden for several months. After 3 PRP treatments I am now a fully functioning human with zero pain throughout most of each day! I can even go back to activities like working out, dancing, and aerial arts! The diet and supplements he put me on even got rid of my migraines - something I've seen specialists for since I was 12!!! This man is brilliant, kind, funny, and extremely patient. He will sit with you and answer every little question you have and geek out with you on the science behind it. I literally trust him with my life.
Courtney Carini

Schedule a consultation

Get on a path to comprehensive healing and long-term pain relief today! Learn about how Dr. Patel can help heal your spine injury or cervical condition. We service Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County. For more information contact our patient concierge at info@fxregencenter.com or call us at (310) 929-9790.