While the internet age has offered up many modern-day conveniences, if often proves futile when patients research their health issues, self-diagnose and subject themselves to a myriad of inappropriate, and occasionally harmful, treatment methods. A patient may be taking over the counter medication for head pain or using a hydrocollator or tens machine for muscle pain, but never break the endless cycle because the treatment doesn’t address the root of the cause. Stiff muscles can pull the spine out of alignment, pinching a nerve and leading to inflammation that causes more muscle stiffness and pain. Ultimately, if the patient is not properly diagnosed, the cycle goes on. Self-diagnosis rarely leads to a positive outcome when the pain is chronic.
Often, simply uncovering the cause of the pain is a milestone. Patients may visit a variety of practitioners before receiving a proper diagnosis. Having a recent CAT scan, MRI, patient history and other test results is essential to assessing each individual’s situation. Knowing what has and hasn’t worked to alleviate the patient’s pain in the past is an important part of determining a sound plan moving forward.
Not every back problem requires invasive surgery. There are many possible alternatives to spinal surgery depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the alternatives are anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching and exercise, short periods of rest, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and less orthodox treatments such as yoga and acupuncture or some combination of the above, to name a few. If you do need surgery, modern day advancements have made it much less invasive and intimidating. The recovery may be more challenging than the procedure itself and require some level of physical therapy and pain management. Immediately after surgery, a patient may experience some pain, numbness, or weakness in or near the area of the surgery. In some cases, a patient may require prescription pain medication.
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