Doctor seeks to correct common misconceptions about back pain treatments

Jun 17 2011
As the number of therapeutic options for back and neck pain continues to grow, many Americans may be forgiven for holding mistaken beliefs about their effectiveness and side effects.

For example, advancements in spinal surgery towards minimally invasive procedures have made more people interested in going straight under the knife - or the laser beam - in order to obtain pain relief.

However, most healthcare practitioners agree that this should be the last resort, since even endoscopic procedures require anesthesia, which can have unwanted effects such as higher blood pressure or nerve damage. Moreover, even with minimally invasive surgeries, there is a recovery time that prospective patients should keep in mind.

This drive towards surgery may partially stem from the ill repute of some of the alternative treatment methods, such as epidural steroid injections. Yet most of these are myths, says Scott Raub, MD, an orthopedic surgeon from Vail, Colorado.

He told the Vail Daily that spinal injections are administered under local anesthesia, or even sedation if the patients requests it, for maximum comfort during the procedure.

Raub further explained that the type of steroids used in interventional pain management are different from athletic performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to that, they are delivered in a targeted fashion using x-ray guidance to deposit the medication where the pain originates from, according to the news provider.

Finally, the expert suggested that a popular natural remedy for back pain - namely bed rest - should be used in moderation. Specifically, going to bed for more than three days can do more damage than good, as muscles begin to weaken from a lack of use.

In the end, individuals experiencing acute or chronic back pain should always seek advice from a healthcare provider in order to determine a course of treatment that works best in their unique circumstances.