If you’re experiencing back pain, you’re certainly not alone. Ranging in severity from a muscle ache to a shooting pain radiating down the leg, back pain is one of the most common reasons that people visit their healthcare provider. A study conducted by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reports that “some 16 million adults – 8 percent of all adults – experience persistent or chronic back pain, and as a result are limited in certain everyday activities.”
Over time, these limitations can restrict our capacity to interact physically, socially and emotionally, causing frustration and sometimes even depression.
“Back pain need not be something you just have to ‘live with’,” says Dr. David Lloyd, neuroradiologist with Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott. “The vast majority of cases of back pain are treatable. Sometimes patience is required, but we have many tools at our disposal to help you feel healthier and more comfortable.”
A neuroradiologist is a physician who is also a radiologist, specially trained in imaging such as MRI and CAT scan. This imaging is frequently necessary to properly diagnose the cause of your back pain and to best plan how to treat it.
Causes of back pain are extensive, but most commonly include degenerative disc disease, arthritis, compressed nerves, and even fractures. Lloyd stresses that depending on the diagnosis, there are many minimally invasive choices when it comes to relieving the pain.
“Minimally invasive refers to procedures outside of what we typically think of as surgery,” he explains. “It does not require general anesthesia, avoids large incisions, and the recovery is much more tolerable. In almost all cases, the patient requires no inpatient stay at the hospital and is back to performing normal activities of daily living within a few hours of the procedure.”
Steroid injections, epidural steroid injections and selective nerve blocks are among the most typical procedures.
For compression fractures of the spine, which are most often found in osteoporosis patients, vertebroplasty is a highly effective procedure. A cement-like material is injected into the broken bone, stabilizing the fracture. Lloyd states that most patients experience pain relief and the renewed ability to go about their daily activities almost immediately.
“The wonderful thing about the procedures I perform is how quickly and effectively most patients receive pain relief,” Lloyd says. “Obviously, magic pills don’t exist, and relief of back pain can remain elusive, but most patients receive a significantly improved quality of life shortly after receiving the needed procedure. It’s very satisfying to see a patient who was struggling with unrelenting pain be able to engage in a more fulfilling lifestyle and overcome the discouragement he or she was feeling.”
Talk to your healthcare provider to see if a referral makes sense for you. Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott may be reached at (928) 771-8477.