(65) 64712744|info@boneclinic.com.sg

Back Pain Clinic

Are you frustrated with your Lower back pain that is not getting better? Are you experiencing difficulty in standing up after prolong sitting, unable to straighten your back? Feeling numbness to your leg? You are in the right place! We certainly able to help with our innovative and non-invasive (non-surgical) form of treatment. Get your spine check today. Call us at (65) 6471 2744 or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg to schedule for an appointment.

Lower back pain is one of the main reasons Singaporean visit their doctor. For adults over 40, it ranks third as a cause for doctor visits, after heart disease and arthritis. Eighty percent of people will have low back pain at some point in their lives. And nearly everyone who has low back pain once will have it again.

Very few people who feel pain in their lower back have a serious medical problem. Ninety percent of people who experience low back pain for the first time get better in two to six weeks. Only rarely do people with low back pain develop chronic back problems.

With these facts in mind, you can be assured that back pain is common, that it usually only causes problems for a short period of time, and that you can take steps to ease symptoms and prevent future problems.

Symptoms of Lower Back Pain:

  • The pain may radiate down the front, side, or back of your leg, or it may be confined to the low back
  • The pain may become worse with activity.
  • Occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip.
  • You may have numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve.
    • An example of this would be an inability to plantar flex the foot. This means you would be unable to stand on your toes or bring your foot downward. This occurs when the first sacral nerve is compressed or injured.
    • Another example would be the inability to raise your big toe upward. This results when the fifth lumbar nerve is compromised.

Causes of Low Back Pain

Why do I have low back pain?

There are many causes of low back pain. Doctors are not always able to pinpoint the source of a patient’s pain. But our doctor will make every effort to ensure that your symptoms are not from a serious medical cause, such as cancer or a spinal infection.

The vast majority of back problems are a result of wear and tear on the parts of the spine over many years. This process is called degeneration. Over time, the normal process of aging can result in degenerative changes in all parts of the spine.

Injuries to the spine, such as a fracture or injury to the disc, can make the changes happen even faster. There is strong evidence that cigarette smoking also speeds up degeneration of the spine. Scientists have found links among family members, showing that genetics plays a role in how fast these changes occur.

Degeneration

The intervertebral disc changes over time. At first, the disc is spongy and firm. The nucleus in the center of the disc contains a great deal of water. This gives the disc its ability to absorb shock and protect the spine from heavy and repeated forces.

The first change that occurs is that the annulus around the nucleus weakens and begins to develop small cracks and tears. The body tries to heal the cracks with scar tissue. But scar tissue is not as strong as the tissue it replaces. The torn annulus can be a source of pain for two reasons. First, there are pain sensors in the outer rim of the annulus. They signal a painful response when the tear reaches the outer edge of the annulus. Second, like injuries to other tissues in the body, a tear in the annulus can cause pain due to inflammation.

With time, the disc begins to lose water, causing it to lose some of its fullness and height. As a result, the vertebrae begin to move closer together.

As the disc continues to degenerate, the space between the vertebrae shrinks. This compresses the facet joints along the back of the spinal column. As these joints are forced together, extra pressure builds on the articular cartilage on the surface of the facet joints. This extra pressure can damage the facet joints. Over time, this may lead to arthritis in the facet joints.

These degenerative changes in the disc, facet joints, and ligaments cause the spinal segment to become loose and unstable. The extra movement causes even more wear and tear on the spine. As a result, more and larger tears occur in the annulus.

Mechanical and Neurogenic Pain

To best understand the cause of your pain, spine specialists sometimes divide low back pain into two categories:

  • mechanical pain – caused by wear and tear in the parts of lumbar spine.
  • neurogenic pain – occurs when spinal nerves are inflamed, squeezed or pinched.

Spine Conditions

The effects of spine degeneration or back injury can lead to specific spine conditions. These include

  • annular tears
  • internal disc disruption
  • herniated disc
  • facet joint arthritis
  • segmental instability
  • spinal stenosis
  • foraminal stenosis

Symptoms

What are some of the symptoms of low back problems?

Symptoms from low back problems vary. They depend on a person’s condition and which structures are affected. Some of the more common symptoms of low back problems are

  • low back pain
  • pain spreading into the buttocks and thighs
  • pain radiating from the buttock to the foot
  • back stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • muscle weakness in the hip, thigh, leg, or foot
  • sensory changes (numbness, prickling, or tingling) in the leg, foot, or toes

Rarely, symptoms involve changes in bowel or bladder function. A large disc herniation that pushes straight back into the spinal canal can put pressure on the nerves that go to the bowels and bladder. The pressure may cause symptoms of low back pain, pain running down the back of both legs, and numbness or tingling between the legs in the area you would contact if you were seated on a saddle. The pressure on the nerves can cause a loss of control in the bowels or bladder.

If the pressure isn’t relieved, it can lead to permanent paralysis of the bowels and bladder. This condition is called cauda equina syndrome. Doctors recommend immediate surgery to remove pressure from the nerves.

 

 

Diagnosis

How will my doctor find out what’s causing my problem?

The diagnosis of low back problems begins with a thorough history of your condition. You might be asked to fill out a questionnaire describing your back problems. Our doctor will ask you questions to find out when you first started having problems, what makes your symptoms worse or better, and how the symptoms affect your daily activity. Your answers will help guide the physical examination.

Our doctor will then physically examine the muscles and joints of your low back. It is important that our doctor see how your back is aligned, how it moves, and exactly where it hurts.

Our doctor may do some simple tests to check the function of the nerves. These tests are used to measure the strength in your lower limbs, check your reflexes, and determine whether you have numbness in your legs or feet.

The information from your medical history and physical examination will help our doctor decide which further tests to run. The tests give different types of information.

Radiological Imaging

Radiological imaging tests help your doctor see the anatomy of your spine. There are several kinds of imaging tests that are commonly used.

X-rays

X-rays show problems with bones, such as infection, bone tumors, or fractures. X-rays of the spine also can give your doctor information about how much degeneration has occurred in the spine, such as the amount of space in the neural foramina and between the discs. X-rays are usually the first test ordered before any of the more specialized tests.

MRI Scans

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnetic waves to create pictures of the lumbar spine in slices. The MRI scan shows the lumbar spine bones as well as the soft tissue structures such as the discs, joints, and nerves. MRI scans are painless and don’t require needles or dye. The MRI scan has become the most common test to look at the lumbar spine after X-rays have been taken.

Treatment

What can be done to relieve my symptoms?

Ninety percent of people who experience low back pain for the first time get better in two to six weeks without any treatment at all. Patients often do best when encouraged to stay active and to get back to normal activities as soon as possible, even if there is still some pain. The pain may not go away completely. One goal of treatment is to help you find ways to control the pain and allow you to continue to do your normal activities.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Whenever possible, doctors prefer to use treatments other than surgery. The first goal of these nonsurgical treatments is to ease your pain and other symptoms.

Bed Rest

In cases of severe pain, doctors may suggest a short period of bed rest, usually no more than two days. Lying on your back can take pressure off sore discs and nerves. Most doctors advise against strict bed rest and prefer that patients do ordinary activities using pain to gauge how much is too much.

Back Brace

A back support belt is sometimes recommended when back pain first strikes. It can help provide support and lower the pressure inside a problem disc. Patients are encouraged to gradually discontinue wearing the support belt over a period of two to four days. Otherwise, back muscles begin to rely on the belt and start to shrink (atrophy).

Medications

Many different types of medications are typically prescribed to help gain control of the symptoms of low back pain. There is no medication that will cure low back pain. Medications are prescribed to help with sleep disturbances and to help control pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

In addition to other nonsurgical treatments, doctors often ask their patients to work with a physical therapist. Therapy treatments focus on relieving pain, improving back movement, and fostering healthy posture. A therapist can design a rehabilitation program to address a particular condition and to help the patient prevent future problems. There is a great deal of scientific proof that exercise and increased overall fitness reduce the risk of developing back pain and can improve the symptoms of back pain once it begins.

Injections

Spinal injections are used for both treatment and diagnostic purposes. There are several different types of spinal injections that your doctor may suggest.

Some injections are more difficult to perform and require the use of a fluoroscope. A fluoroscope is a special type of X-ray that allows the doctor to see an X-ray picture continuously on a TV screen. The fluoroscope is used to guide the needle into the correct place before the injection is given.

Surgery

Only rarely is lumbar spine surgery scheduled right away. Our doctor may suggest immediate surgery if you are losing control of your bowels and bladder or if your muscles are becoming weaker very rapidly.

For other conditions, doctors prefer to try nonsurgical treatments for a minimum of three months before considering surgery. Most people with back pain tend to get better, not worse. Even people who have degenerative spine changes tend to gradually improve with time. Only one to three percent of patients with degenerative lumbar conditions typically require surgery. Surgery may be suggested when severe pain is not improving.

There are many different operations for back pain. The goal of nearly all spine operations is to remove pressure from the nerves of the spine, stop excessive motion between two or more vertebrae, or both. The type of surgery that is best depends on that patient’s conditions and symptoms.

Laminectomy

The lamina is the covering layer of the bony ring of the spinal canal. It forms a roof-like structure over the back of the spinal column. When the nerves in the spinal canal are being squeezed by a herniated disc or from bone spurs pushing into the canal, a laminectomy removes part or all of the lamina to release pressure on the spinal nerves.

Discectomy

When the intervertebral disc has ruptured, the portion that has ruptured into the spinal canal may put pressure on the nerve roots. This may cause pain, weakness, and numbness that radiates into one or both legs. The operation to remove the portion of the disc that is pressing on the nerve roots is called a discectomy. This operation is performed through an incision in the low back immediately over the disc that has ruptured.

Many spine surgeons now perform discectomy procedures that require only small incisions in the low back (minimally invasive). The advantage of these minimally invasive procedures is less damage to the muscles of the back and a quicker recovery. Many surgeons are now performing minimally invasive discectomy as an outpatient procedure.

Read more about Microdiscectomy or Microdecompression Surgery

Rehabilitation

What should I expect after treatment?

Non-surgical Rehabilitation

For acute back pain, you may be prescribed two to four weeks of physical therapy. You might need to continue therapy for two to four months for chronic back problems. Treatments are designed to ease pain and to improve your mobility, strength, posture, and function. You’ll also learn how to control your symptoms and how to protect your spine for the years ahead.

 

 

 

Read more about Prevention of Lower Back Pain

Read more about Back Problems

Get your Professional Treatment and Advice on your Lower Back Pain, Call +65 6471 2744 for Appointment / Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg for Appointment

Patient Guide to Back Pain

CURE YOUR BACK PAIN TODAY. CALL +65 6471 2744 or SMS to +65 92357641 FOR APPOINTMENT

Back pain is extremely common – about four in five people are affected at some point in their lifetime. Anyone can get back pain at any age, but it’s most common in people between the ages of 35 and 55, or over.

Your back has many interconnecting structures, including bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Its main support structure is the spine, which is made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae, plus the bones of the sacrum and coccyx. Between the vertebrae are discs that act as shock absorbers and allow your spine to bend. Your spinal cord threads down through the central canal of each vertebra, carrying nerves from your brain to the rest of your body.

It’s often very difficult to know exactly what causes back pain, but it’s usually thought to be related to a strain in one of the interconnecting structures in your back, rather than a nerve problem. Back pain caused by a more serious, underlying condition is rare and you’re unlikely to be affected unless you are very old or very young.

Spinal Stenosis

Symptoms of Low Back Pain

If you have low back pain, you may have tension, soreness or stiffness in your lower back area. This pain is often referred to as ‘non-specific’ back pain and usually improves on its own within a few days.

Back pain may be called either ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’ depending on how long your symptoms last. You may have:

  • acute back pain – lasting less than six weeks
  • sub-acute back pain – lasting six weeks to three months
  • chronic back pain – lasting longer than three months

You should see a doctor as soon as possible if, as well as back pain, you have:

  • a fever (high temperature)
  • redness or swelling on your back
  • pain down your legs and below your knees
  • numbness or weakness in one or both legs or around your buttocks
  • loss of bladder or bowel control (incontinence)
  • constant pain, particularly at night
  • pain that is getting much worse and is spreading up your spine

These symptoms are known as red flags. It’s important to seek medical help for these symptoms to ensure you don’t have a more serious, underlying cause for your back pain.

For most people with back pain, there isn’t any specific, underlying problem or condition that can be identified as the cause of the pain. However, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing back pain, or aggravate it once you have it. These include:

  • standing, sitting or bending down for long periods
  • lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads that are too heavy, or going about these tasks in the wrong way
  • having a trip or a fall
  • being stressed or anxious
  • being overweight
  • having poor posture

There may be other, more serious underlying causes of your low back pain, but these are rare. They include:

  • fracture – a crack or break in one of the bones in your back
  • osteoporosis – a condition where bones lose density causing them to become weak, brittle and more likely to break
  • a slipped disc – this is when a disc bulges so far out that it puts pressure on your spinal nerves
  • spinal stenosis – a condition in which the spaces in your spine narrow
  • spondylolithesis – when one of your back bones slips forward and out of position
  • degenerative disc disease – when the discs in your spinal cord gradually become worn down
  • osteoarthritis – a wear-and-tear disease that can particularly affect the joints of your spine
  • rheumatoid arthritis – an inflammatory condition in which your immune system causes inflammation of the lining of your joints and surrounding structures

Low back pain may also be caused by an infection or cancer, but these two causes are very rare.

Diagnosis of back pain

A doctor will usually be able to diagnose low back pain from your symptoms and there will be no need for further tests. If, however, your symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks, or you have some red flag symptoms, he or she may refer you to have:

  • an X-ray
  • a CT scan (a test that uses X-ray equipment and computer software to create pictures of the inside of your body)
  • an MRI scan (a test that uses magnets and radiowaves to produce images of the inside of the body)
  • blood tests

These tests are used to find out if you have a more specific, underlying cause for your back pain.

Please note that availability and use of specific tests may vary from country to country.

Treatment of back pain

If your back pain is non-specific, your doctor will recommend you try self-help measures. Alternatively, he or she may prescribe medicines or refer you for physical therapy if your pain is severe or chronic. If, however, your doctor suspects you have a specific underlying cause, he or she may refer you to have spinal injections. These are used to find out the exact source of, and also to treat, your back pain but aren’t suitable for everyone.

Self-help

There are a number of things you can do to help relieve low back pain.

  • Stay active and continue your daily activities as normally as you can. Bed rest may actually make low back pain worse, so try to limit the time you spend resting to a minimum.
  • Apply hot or cold packs to the affected area. You can buy specially designed hot and cold packs from most pharmacies. If you prefer, you can apply a cold compress, such as ice or a bag of frozen peas, wrapped in a towel. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin as it can damage your skin.

Medicines

Taking an over-the-counter painkiller such as aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or paracetamol (acetaminophen), or anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen is often enough to relieve acute low back pain. You can also use creams, lotions and gels that contain painkillers or anti-inflammatory ingredients. Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

If your pain is severe or chronic, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicines such as diazepam, morphine or tramadol. However, these aren’t suitable for everyone because they can be addictive and cause side-effects. Always ask your doctor for advice and read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.

Physical therapies

A physiotherapist (physical therapist – a health professional who specialises in maintaining and improving movement and mobility) may be able to help you design a programme to help you exercise and stretch.

Alternatively, your doctor may refer you for physical therapy such as chiropractic treatment or osteopathy (therapies that are given alongside conventional treatments) to help with your back pain. Treatment can involve exercises, posture advice, massage, and techniques known as spinal mobilisation and spinal manipulation.

Surgery

Back pain, even if it’s chronic, can usually be treated or managed successfully, but about one in 10 people have ongoing problems. Back surgery is really only considered as a last resort if the pain is related to a specific cause.

Complementary therapies

Some people find acupuncture can help relieve low back pain.
Alternatively, you could try a pain-management programme to help you better deal with and manage your symptoms.

You should always talk to a doctor before trying any complementary therapy.
Availability and use of different treatments may vary from country to country. Ask your doctor for advice on your treatment options.

Prevention of back pain

Good back care can greatly reduce your risk of getting low back pain. To look after your back, make sure you:

  • take regular exercise – walking and swimming are particularly beneficial
  • try to keep your stress levels to a minimum
  • bend from your knees and hips, not your back
  • maintain good posture – keep your shoulders back and don’t slouch

CURE YOUR BACK PAIN TODAY. CALL +65 6471 2744 or SMS to +65 92357641 FOR APPOINTMENT

Back Pain

Most people suffer from mild back pain from time to time and the exact cause of which may be difficult to diagnose. It is usually a sign that one or more muscles, joints, ligaments or discs are over-stretched or twisted by movement of the back in an awkward position. Severe pain may be the result of pressure on nerves from the misalignment of the bones in the back and warrants immediate medical attention.

Low back pain afflicts some 80 % of the adult population some time or other in their lives.

Many episodes of pain last only several hours or a day or two. By and large, 90% of patients should have recovered from their initial attack of pain by 6 weeks from the onset.

Symptoms

Early medical attention is necessary if certain symptoms (“red flags”) are present:

  • Constant pain with no significant relief at rest
  • Aggravated by bending in all directions
  • Localisable severe pain to a single spot on the back
  • Progressively severe pain over days/weeks
  • Persistent nerve pains, pain or sensation of numbness, pins & needles aching in one or both legs
  • Weakness of legs, difficulty in walking, unsteady walking
  • Bladder/bowel problems associated with back pain (difficulty in passing urine – incontinence)
  • General symptoms of poor health, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, fever and chills
  • Previous history of cancer

Treatment

Rest is very crucial for patients with episodic attacks of back pain. Rest here may involve going home and lying down for a few hours, or it may be as simple as keeping the back straight and avoiding further stress to the back in the form of bending, lifting and sitting. In severe attacks, lying down for a day or two may significantly reduce the severity of the pain. If it does not, further bed -rest is not helpful.

Physical therapy is very important in the treatment and prevention of low back pain. In the initial period of acute back pain, combinations of heat, traction, manual treatment, and other techniques may help to rapidly reduce the severity of pain and stiffness. As pain subsides, exercises, to relieve stress and strengthen the back ,are gradually introduced. Regularity of such exercises can help to further reduce the pain, as well as protect the back from unhealthy stress and recurrent attacks of pain.

Different types of medications may be prescribed for different types of back pain.

In acute sciatica or leg pain associated with back disorders, the acute irritation of the nerve may be reduced by taking NSAIDS regularly for a short period of time. NSAIDS are often prescribed purely for pain relief rather than for anti-inflammatory effects. It is based on an as-required basis. These drugs are to be avoided if there is a history of allergy and kidney problems. In most cases, NSAIDS are well-tolerated, though most of them provoke gastric symptoms. The doctor must always be consulted.

Muscle relaxants help to reduce muscle spasm and stiffness that occurs during a pain attack. Sedatives and tranquilisers may be taken at night to ensure a restful sleep.

Ice packs, hot packs or heating lamps, ointments that usually contain methyl -salicylate and medicated plasters of various kinds may help.

30 – 40 % of patients suffer a relapse during the first few months following the attack. It is important to identify the factors that aggravated the pain.

I have severe back pain and sciatica that has not improved even with treatment. What should I do?

X-rays of the low-back should be obtained. Conditions like spondylolisthesis, infection and tumour should be excluded. Sophisticated imaging techniques such as MRI ( magnetic resonance imaging) may be required . MRI scans can show the severity of a prolapsed disc and more importantly , the degree of the nerve compression, if any. Other investigations such as bone scan, CT scans or myelograms may be performed in certain conditions.

Prevention

Recommendations for prevention of low back pain:

  • Try to modify the activity so that it is less likely to strain the back
  • Interrupt a repetitive task frequently by standing and stretching. This helps to reduce the stress on the back from building up to critical levels
  • Exercise programmes must be balanced to exercise all parts of the body, including the back.
  • Exercises should be done frequently in measured doses.

Slipped Disc

As a person gets older, a process called degeneration, the nucleus in the lower few discs of the low back . As a result , the discs are less capable of cushioning the spine , especially during repeated stressful activities. The capsule or annulus can then tear and cause pain. This is known as a slipped disc.

In a slipped disc, the annulus tears with different degrees of severity. Small tears heal quickly. Large tears can cause a small portion of the nucleus herniating through the tear to lie outside the wall of the disc. If this herniation is close to a nerve, intense irritation of the nerve can occur. “Sciatica “or feelings of pain, aching, numbness, “coldness ‘, paraesthesia or pins and needles of the thigh and calf may occur. This can involve one or both legs. Properly performed manual treatment using massage, mobilisation and manipulation may often be helpful in reducing the severity of low back pain.

Most cases recover without the need for surgery. As mentioned earlier, 90 % patients recover within 6 weeks. However a small group of patients have a significant portion of the nucleus that has herniated out of the annulus of the disc to compress the nerve and removal of the herniated fragment of disc will result in more rapid recovery of symptoms than without.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aside from a prolapsed disc, what other causes of recurrent back and leg pains are there?

Spinal canal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are 2 other common causes of recurrent back and leg pains . In older people, a condition termed as lumbar spondylosis, ( the facet joints of the spine can wear out ) can result in episodic back pains. Osteoporosis or softening of the bones can occur in the elderly, resulting in back pains. Patients who have had a previous history of cancer elsewhere, and having persistent back pains, should seek a medical opinion. Less commonly conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylosis and various types of infections can also afflict the spine.

My back is often sore at the end of a day’s work. How can I prevent this?

Modification of activity or the work environment may be required. It is often how the person does that results in unnecessary stress to the back. Such instruction can be provided by the doctor or the therapist , either as an individual or in groups of patients attending “Back Care ” classes.

I am already doing a full day’s work. I also jog and play tennis Why do I need other exercises?

Work, no matter how strenous, is not exercise. In fact, some jobs especially those that involve repeated lifting or bending, or prolonged standing or sitting, add to the stress over the spine. Jogging, racquet games, golf, etc. may be good for general health and fitness but do not significantly exercise or strengthen the back. A balanced programme which includes improving the flexibility and strength of the back will help to prevent recurrent injuries.

STOP your Back Pain today! Call +65 6471 2744 or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg for Appointment