The Conservative Approach to Back Problems

Back and neck pain can affect anyone at some point in his or her life. Fortunately the vast majority of these episodes do not last long and improve on their own. When back or neck problems become too painful to treat at home or when the go on too long, it is time to consult a spine specialist. Modern treatments for spine problems combine a variety of state of the art techniques for optimal results.

Typical back or neck pain symptoms can be treated with a combination of physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants. This conservative approach is often quite effective in addressing the mild to moderate episodes of back or neck pain. In cases where this approach fails to relieve the pain for four to six weeks, next steps need to be considered. If other symptoms are present in addition to pain, appropriate imaging studies are often needed. An MRI can be really useful in pinpointing the source of the problem. This can guide the spine specialist to cater a specialized treatment plan that addresses the patient’s unique spinal problems. This may include a spinal injection which deposits an anti-inflammatory medication directly around the affected area of the spine.

In the minority of patients who don’t find relief with these treatments, a minimally invasive surgical solution may be considered. A conservative spine specialist considers each patient’s unique set of problems and then recommends a surgical treatment that would achieve the maximum and permanent relief with the least invasive procedure. Modern spine diagnostic techniques enable a Neurosurgeon to focus on the problem area and this often allows him or her to limit the extent of procedures needed to help the patient.
It is therefore very important for the patient to seek out spine specialists that practice conservative spine care and are familiar with the latest developments in the care of spine.

Mudit Sharma, MD, FAANS,                                                                                                  Founder, Virginia Spine Specialists