Treatment Options for Low Back Pain

Many individuals will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Most who

seek treatment will begin with a conservative treatment plan that typically includes rest, ice,

anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, as well as physical therapy or chiropractic care.

If these are not sufficient, it is likely a radiographic image, CT or MRI study will be viewed by a

radiologist to determine if abnormalities in the lumbar spine may be present.

In the case of radiculopathy, image-guided injections or lumbar decompression spine

surgery are viable options to reduce pressure off a nerve and improve feeling in the legs in

these patients. [1] Osteoarthritis is a condition that may result in spinal stenosis. This occurs in

older patients more commonly than younger individuals and can also be treated with lumbar

decompression. [1] Total disc replacement or artificial disc surgery may be an appropriate

procedure for those with degenerative discs that may be causing debilitating symptoms. 1

In case of painful compression fractures refractory to conservative management, a

procedure called vertebroplasty or vertebral augmentation is a safe and effective treatment to

achieve pain relief, reduce disability and improve quality of life. In the case of spinal cancer

surgery will likely be performed with emphasis placed on removing the tumor, controlling or

reducing pain, and fixing or maintaining neurological function and spinal stability. [2]

With the ability and skills to read multiple types of diagnostic images and offer

image-guided treatments for pain relief, radiologists offer a critical service to help patients get

the necessary treatment to improve their quality of life, and in some cases, save a patient’s life.


Author 1: Braden Stoeger UWSP Biology Major

Author 2: Kunal Patel, MD



Ullrich Jr, P.F, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon. (2004, May 10). “When to See a Surgeon for Low Back

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Schneider, J. H., MD. (2010, April 1). “Types of Spinal Tumors.” Retrieved January 21, 2017,


The Effect of Low Back Pain

      Lower back pain is a serious issue faced by many individuals in the United States. Low back pain is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits, and is the second most common symptomatic reason (upper respiratory symptoms are first). As these patients are attempting to find a solution for their low back pain they are likely to have to pay medical bills and have decreased productivity at work.  The estimated annual national bill for the care of low back problems is $38 to $50 billion. Low back pain can be a symptom of a wide array of mechanical and nonmechanical conditions. The mechanical conditions typically include muscular or ligament strains/sprains as well as degenerative disk disease, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, or osteoporosis. Radiculopathy is another large contributor to low back pain and is often identifiable as a sciatica, herniated intervertebral disk, as well as fractures, tumors, infection, or a vascular compromise. Nonmechanical spine disorders are less common but include neoplasia, infection of the low back, and inflammatory arthritis. Low back pain is located, managed, and treated by family practice providers, internists, neurologists, rheumatologists, radiologists, emergency physicians, and orthopedic and neurological surgeons. Nonallopathic providers of back care include osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists.

Author 1: Braden Stoeger ,UWSP Biology Major

Author 2: Kunal Patel, MD


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