• Herniated Discs 101

    If you’ve visited a spine specialist because of persistent or severe back pain, you may have been diagnosed with a herniated disc . When you watch this video, you’ll see an animation of how a herniated disc can occur and how it might be treatable with spine surgery at a clinic in Los Angeles. The intervertebral discs of the spine provide cushioning and flexibility. When the exterior wall of a disc degenerates, it becomes more vulnerable to injury. A crack in the exterior wall can allow the inner material to protrude through to the outside. Subsequently, this material can compress a nearby nerve, leading to symptoms like back pain.

    Spine surgery isn’t always necessary for herniated discs. In fact, many patients can find sufficient relief of their symptoms with conservative treatments like rest and physical therapy. But when the symptoms persist longer than six weeks, spine surgery might be recommended. The spine specialist can remove the herniated portion of the disc, which relieves pressure on the nerves.

  • Choosing a Treatment Plan for Thoracic Back Pain

    The thoracic spine is the portion located in your upper back, between the cervical spine in your neck and the lumbar spine in your lower back. Pain in the thoracic spine is less common than back pain that affects other areas, because this part of the back is relatively stable and moves only minimally. If you experience pain in your thoracic spine, see a spine doctor in Los Angeles for diagnosis and care. As with all types of spinal injuries, upper back pain is easiest to treat when you see a spine specialist soon after the onset of symptoms.

    Thoracic back pain is typically caused by muscle irritation, or myofascial pain, or joint dysfunction. Myofascial pain usually occurs because of overexertion or de-conditioning of the muscles in the thoracic region. Joint dysfunction can also be caused by accidents and other spine injuries.

    Non-operative spine care is sufficient for most cases of upper back pain. Physical therapy, steroid injections, and massage can all be helpful. When non-invasive methods don’t work, surgical solutions including fusion and laminectomy, are possible.

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  • Tips for Preventing a Season-Ending Back Injury

    Spinal injuries and back pain are significant risks in nearly every sport. For athletes, back injuries can be particularly troublesome because they often require lengthy recoveries. While your spine specialist in Los Angeles can offer non-operative spine care and other back injury treatment options that can get you back in the game as soon as possible, prevention is the best strategy. Protect your back from an injury that ruins your season with this advice.

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    Stretch and Warm-Up

    Before any physical activity, whether in practice or in a game, always stretch and warm-up before taking part. Stretching and warming up boosts circulation to your muscles and helps loosing them up in preparation for exertion. Skipping this pre-activity routine means you’ll be going right from rest to intense activity, which can cause tears and other injuries in the stiff muscles in your back.

    Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

    Most sports have safety equipment that is designed to prevent a range of injuries, including spinal injuries. Reduce the urge to compete without it, even during practices. If you already have a back injury and your spine specialist recommends that you wear a brace or other type of protection for you back, follow the treatment protocol. Even if this kind of safety gear isn’t typical of your sport, wearing it can make the difference between a minor injury and one that ends your ability to compete for the season.

    Listen to Your Body

    No athlete wants to volunteer to sit out of a game, but if you experience back pain, rest is essential. Playing through the pain can worsen a spinal injury and lead to long-term immobility. By allowing your body time to heal, your injury may not require any additional treatment, while causing your injury to get worse may leave you in need of spine surgery. For persistent pain, see a spine doctor for a diagnosis and to begin treatment as soon as possible.

  • The Benefits of Non-Operative Spine Care Over Pain Medications

    When most people start experiencing back pain, their natural reaction is to begin to take pain medications. If the problem persists and they visit a primary care provider, they may be prescribed additional pain medicines to control their symptoms. However, pain medications eventually prove to not be enough for the vast majority of patients. When your back pain doesn’t respond to pain medications, non-operative spine care in Los Angeles could be the answer. Here is why pain medicines are often insufficient and how non-operative treatments can help.

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    The Problem with Pain Medication

    Pain medications often provide an initial level of relief for people experiencing back pain. Over time, however, they often lose their effectiveness, either because your body has become accustomed to the medication or because the spinal injury that is the cause of the pain has worsened. Because the medication is not relieving your pain sufficiently anymore, you may begin to take it more frequently. This behavior can lead to a dangerous pain medication dependency. Further, because pain medications only mask the symptoms, the root cause of your back pain is not being addresses. Your back pain may become chronic and your injury can become more severe without the proper treatment.

    Non-Operative Spine Care Solutions

    Your spine specialist can use non-operative techniques to both control your pain and address the cause. Spinal injections combine anti-inflammatory steroids and numbing medications to calm inflammation and block pain. These injections are targeted specifically to the region of the spine that is affected, so you get more precise pain management without using a medication that impacts you systemically. To address the cause of your back pain, a physical therapy program can be designed to meet your specific needs. Therapy involves stretches and exercises that ease pressure on the nerves in your spine and to rebuild strength. Hot and cold therapy may also be used to reduce inflammation and boost the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Because these solutions do more than temporarily hide your pain, they offer more sustainable solutions without the risk of dependency or overdose.

  • Differentiating Between Disc Conditions

    When you see a spine specialist, he or she will begin treatment by determining the exact nature of your problem. For many people, back pain is the result of a disc disease, such as a bulging disc, herniated disc, or degenerative disc disease. Your spine doctor in Los Angeles will diagnose the nature of your disc problem before choosing a treatment plan. Watch this video to learn more.

    In all of these conditions, a chronic or acute spinal injury that damages one or more discs causes pressure on the nerves in your back. This pressure causes pain that eventually sends many people to a spine specialist for treatment. The causes and symptoms of disc conditions vary depending on the nature of the injury, so your doctor will tailor your treatment plan accordingly.