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Lower Back Pain

Find Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic

What Is Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is an extremely common condition—about 80 percent of Americans will experience it at least once in their lifetime. Low back pain can vary widely, ranging from mild to severe, and from short-lived to chronic. Lower back pain often makes it more difficult than usual to complete everyday activities, and it’s one of the leading reasons people miss work and visit a doctor.

What Are the Symptoms of Low Back Pain?

Low back pain can develop over time gradually, or it can come on suddenly. In some people symptoms are felt constantly, while others only feel them every so often. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain, tenderness, and/or stiffness in the lower back, especially when bending, lifting, or twisting the back
  • Pain that spreads into the buttocks or legs (sciatica)
  • Difficulty standing up or remaining standing in one position for a long time
  • Discomfort while sitting
  • Weak or tired legs after walking

What Are the Causes of Low Back Pain?

Anyone can get low back pain and it can develop for a variety of reasons, but certain factors increase your chances. Major risk factors for low back pain include:

  • Older age
  • Poor physical fitness, a sedentary lifestyle, or being overweight
  • Other diseases, like arthritis or cancer
  • Risky occupations that can strain the back
  • Smoking
  • Depression or anxiety

Many cases of low back pain are simply the result of overactivity from participating in sports or something like raking leaves the wrong way. This causes the muscles and ligaments to stretch too far, leading to soreness and pain. Low back pain from overactivity will usually go away after a few days.

Pain that lasts a while may indicate another possible cause, such as:

  • Disc injury: The spine is made up of small bones (vertebrae) stacked upon one another, as well as ligaments, muscles, nerves, and intervertebral discs, which sit in between the vertebrae and hold them together like a ligament. Disc injuries include:
    • Disc tear: Small tears can occur due to aging and pain may or may not be noticed.
    • Disc herniation (slipped disc): The center of the disc pushes against the outer part, putting pressure on spinal nerves and causing pain.
    • Disc degeneration: With age, discs begin to wear away and shrink, and the joints can rub against each other. This is called osteoarthritis and can lead to further problems like spinal stenosis.
  • Lumbar (lower back) spinal stenosis: The space around the spinal cord narrows, putting pressure on the cord and nerves and causing pain.
  • Other common causes include degenerative spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, cancer, infections, pregnancy, kidney stones, and fibromyalgia.

How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed?

A doctor will generally evaluate you using a full medical history and a physical examination. They may also recommend a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which uses a magnet to create clear images of the body.

How Is Low Back Pain Treated?

If you’ve recently developed low back pain that’s manageable and not excruciating, it’s best to see your primary care physician first if you believe treatment is needed. Most cases of low back pain will improve with time and non-surgical care, which usually consists of rest, medication, physical therapy, and exercise.

Sometimes, however, non-surgical treatment does not relieve the pain and surgery may be needed. Surgery should be considered when non-surgical treatment doesn’t produce results after a few months, and there is an anatomical cause of the pain that can be seen on an MRI or other scan. Surgery can also be necessary if you are completely unable to function in everyday life or if there is severe, persistent abdominal or back pain, or nerve damage.

If you fall into one of these categories, the neurosurgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic can help. We will evaluate your low back pain, determine its cause, and present you with effective surgical options. Surgical procedures we offer include:

  • Lumbar discectomy and micro-discectomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Lumbar spinal fusion
  • Anterior or posterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Posterolateral lumbar fusion
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion
  • Foraminotomy
  • Medical facetectomy
  • Sextant fusion
  • Artificial lumbar disc implantation

Hear from One of Our Patients

Hear from a patient who has been successfully treated for back problems by Dr. Margraf.

Make an Appointment

Our neurosurgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic are skilled and experienced at treating low back pain. To meet with one of our specialists:
Make an appointment today!