Expert Care for Back Pain

If you experience lower back pain, the spine doctors at Catholic Health provide expert care to find the cause of your pain and help you heal.

Our spine team is highly skilled at treating many different types of back pain. We are dedicated to finding the treatment that helps you return to your regular activities.

Spine Care at Catholic Health

Low back pain is common and can be caused by swelling of the joints, muscles or discs in the back. The pain can become worse with poor posture, repetitive lifting, bending and twisting. In most cases, our doctors will recommend rest, moderate exercise, medication, ice packs and heating pads. At Catholic Health, 70 percent of patients recover from back pain with this treatment.

If you continue to experience back pain after two weeks of treatment, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. In general, 90 percent of patients recover after 4 to 6 weeks of physical therapy.

Types of Back Pain

There are different kinds of back pain and each comes with its own duration and recovery time.

  • Acute low back pain lasts six weeks or less. Your back may feel stiff and it may be difficult to stand straight. The condition lasts for six weeks or less and usually improves after a few days of care.
  • Acute sciatica is pain that extends below the waist into one leg, along the path of the sciatic nerve. The condition lasts for six weeks or less and takes longer to improve than low back pain.
  • Chronic low back pain and sciatica last for longer than six weeks. Recovery time varies and specialized treatment, such as rehabilitation or occupational therapy, may be needed to provide relief.

Treatments for Back Pain

Many patients recover from back pain by following these recommendations:

  • Exercise moderately. Activity that does not worsen the pain can be helpful. Try to return to daily activities within a few days.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicine. Ibuprofen and other medicines to reduce inflammation can reduce pain. Muscle relaxants can ease spasms. Steroid injections in the spine are used to reduce sciatica pain.
  • Apply ice and heat. Ice packs, cold packs and a hot bath or heating bad can reduce pain and swelling. Use ice packs for 20 minutes, three or four times a day. A hot bath may help if taken 72 hours after the injury.
  • Manage stress. Stress from work, family and financial situations can impact back pain, so work to keep your stress under control.
  • Improve posture, sleep and weight. Standing straight, getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy weight can all reduce stress on back muscles.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can cause back pain and prevent relief.
  • Physical therapy. If you have back pain for more than two weeks, physical therapy may help. Most patients receive therapy one to three times a week for one to two months. Most insurance companies require a doctor’s referral for back pain physical therapy.
  • Spine surgery. Although rarely needed, spine surgery can be used to treat back pain and correct pain or numbness that goes down one or both arms or legs, profound weakness, changes in bowel or bladder control or fracture or ligament rupture.