Why Are Backaches So Common?

Studies have shown that 80 percent of the population experiences back pain at some point. According to evolutionary biologists, the problem began over 4 million years ago when primates became bipedal, using only two of their four limbs for locomotion. This development put increased stress on the spine and may be blamed for many of the backaches we humans experience. In spite of this common factor, the causes of our 21st-century backaches cover a broad range.

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our accomplished physiatrists treat spine pain resulting from accidental injuries, disease conditions, congenital deformities, and deterioration due to aging. This content is designed to give you an understanding of this wide spectrum, and the nonsurgical methods we use to relieve back pain and restore normal function.

Accidental Injuries to the Back 

Traffic accidents and sports accidents frequently result in back injuries and we treat patients suffering acute traumatic pain as well as back pain that has become chronic following a severe injury. Of course, patients often suffer back pain after other accidents, too, such as slip and falls, or simple actions, such as lifting or bending. The most common back injuries following an accident include:

  • Tendonitis, inflammation of a band of muscle tissue that joins muscle to bone
  • Ligament sprain or tear, damage to the muscle band connecting one bone to another
  • Bulging or ruptured discs (cushions between the vertebrae) put pressure on nerves
  • Stress (hairline) fractures in one or more vertebrae

Most backaches due to accidents can be managed nonsurgically. Some patients, however, especially older individuals or those who have existing malformations or diseases that affect the back, may require surgical intervention. If this is the case in your situation, rest assured that we will refer you to a talented surgical colleague. Even if an operation is necessary, we may well be able to make you more comfortable before your scheduled surgery and to help you heal more rapidly afterward.

Disease Conditions that Cause Back Pain

While human backs are somewhat prone to injury, if you have one of the following conditions, you may suffer chronic back pain without traumatic injury. You also may sustain more damage to your spine if you are involved in a collision or other accident. Even so, our accomplished physiatrists can help to alleviate your pain and restore your range of motion. The following conditions can, of themselves, result in pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility that our nonsurgical methods can relieve:

  • Osteoarthritis, in which cartilage deteriorates during normal aging, or occurs prematurely following a serious injury
  • Spinal stenosis in which the spinal column narrows around the spinal cord, sometimes due to bone spurs 
  • Osteoporosis in which deterioration causes bones to become porous and brittle
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders that can cause joint pain
  • Pain associated with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, post-polio symptoms
  • Spondylolisthesis, in which a vertebra slips out of place, results in pinched nerves
  • Herniated or ruptured discs that predate an accident 
  • Infections involving the vertebrae (osteomyelitis, discitis, sacroiliitis)
  • Cauda equina syndrome in which a ruptured disc pushes into the spinal canal and presses on the bundle of lumbar and sacral nerve roots
  • Pinched nerve or nerve compression
  • Sciatica which is pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain that radiates down the leg

Congenital Causes of Back Pain

There are a few types of congenital malformations of the spine that may affect individual health dramatically. The most common of these (although these conditions are still rare) are:

  • Spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal cord hasn’t formed completely or the baby is born with a myelomeningocele, an opening on the back not covered with membrane protection, leaving nerves exposed
  • Tethered spinal cord, a condition in which the spinal cord is abnormally taut
  • Abnormal spinal alignment (kyphosis, lordosis, or scoliosis) that may cause pain and loss of function
  • Congenital spondylolisthesis, another type of misalignment of the vertebrae that makes them vulnerable to slippage in adulthood

We Have a Fine Track Record of Treating Back Pain Successfully Without Surgery

Whether you have back pain as a result of a congenital problem, a disease condition, or an accident, our experienced doctors can provide you with accurate diagnosis and a variety of nonsurgical treatments, such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy to promote healing
  • Customized physical therapy to restore strength and range of motion
  • Spinal epidural injections using fluoroscopic guidance to pinpoint affected nerves
  • Facet injections into the vertebral joints of the spinal column
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy which, in addition to treating pain and inflammation, increases blood flow to your cells to promote more rapid healing

Consulting with us is a constructive step to take if you are bothered by acute or chronic back pain. We are fully committed to making you feel better, move more easily, and enjoy your life again.