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The Strain of Back Pain

When your back hurts, it seems as if everything hurts. Low back pain can be caused by several different factors – muscles, ligaments, nerves, disc problems and stress.

If back pain is accompanied with a change in bowel or bladder function, or loss of sensation in the groin or loss of use of a leg, this could indicate a potential serious condition and you should immediately go to the emergency room for evaluation and treatment.

Anthony Guarino, MD, Washington University pain management specialist says “When the pain extends down the buttock and leg, it is caused by an irritation to a nerve in your back. This radicular pain can indicate a problem with the sciatic nerve or disc in the spine.

Initial treatment for this type of pain may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants and physical therapy to help the body heal itself.”

If symptoms do not resolve after a month of treatment, testing such as a MRI or CT scan may be necessary to help diagnose the cause of back pain.

Dr. Guarino adds, “Epidural injections are considered when reasonable attempts to initially treat the pain are ineffective. They are one of the most common injections a doctor will perform. Using a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy, a small needle is placed into the epidural space and a steroid is injected near the nerves that are causing the pain. Bathing the nerve with a steroid solution helps reduce inflammation and swelling.”

For some people, the injection will totally alleviate the discomfort, and back pain becomes a distant memory. However, for others the relief is only temporary – lasting from a few weeks to a year.

That is why it is important to participate in an exercise or physical therapy program during the period of pain relief to help improve back function and increase muscle strength.

If you or someone you know suffers from back pain and would like more information on treatment options, please call 314-966-8631 to make an appointment with Dr. Guarino

Patients are seen at:  

Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital
Washington University Pain Management Center
969 N. Mason Rd.
Suite 240
St. Louis, MO, 63141
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Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine