Physicians define “Chronic” pain as pain that continues for more than three months, with many patients reporting chronic back pain symptoms for years. Typically, we associate pain with an injury. Over time, the pain will dissipate as the injury heals. This aligns more with the description of acute pain. Chronic back pain differs from Acute pain. Chronic back pain persists for a longer period of time and may vary wildly in intensity. An ongoing mechanism such as arthritis, persistent nerve root compression, nerve root injury or other ongoing processes usually sit at the source of chronic pain. In some cases, the exact cause of the pain will not correlate with any identifiable source but rather within the nervous system itself.
What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic pain related to the spine may arise in the back and/or legs and in the neck and/or arms. Chronic back pain may cause sensations of numbness, burning, aching, or tingling.
How Do You Diagnose Chronic Back Pain?
Physicians usually require fairly extensive diagnostic evaluations of a patient in order to diagnose chronic pain. The Doctor will perform a thorough review of a patient's medical history including when the pain started; treatments received and their effectiveness; any prior surgeries performed; changes in the type, severity and location of the pain; and review of previous diagnostic tests. They will also perform a physical exam. The Doctor will most likely request diagnostic imaging including X-rays, MRI or CT scans. Other tests include myelography, discography, EMG or injections. The diagnostic workup will vary based on your medical history and any tests previously performed.
What Are The Treatments For Chronic Back Pain?
Spinal Specialists manage Chronic back pain patients with injections, chiropractic care, physical therapy, medications, psychological support, education, chronic pain management program and also sometimes surgery. Chronic back pain management generally requires patients to participate in care for several hours a day for a period as long as 4-6 weeks. If a structural anomaly lies at the heart of the chronic pain, the specialist may opt for a fusion or decompression surgery. Specialists may also consider surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator in the absence of any identifiable sources of pain. Patients should discuss treatment options with their doctor when deciding which treatment will work best for them.