Understanding and Managing Back Pain

by | Dec 1, 2023

Dealing with back pain, whether it’s from nerve issues such as sciatica or a pinched nerve or a herniated disc, can affect your everyday life. At Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic, we understand how difficult it can be and aim to guide you towards a healthier and more comfortable life with the latest and comprehensive interventional pain management techniques.

Woman stretching her back at desk during work

Introduction to Back Pain 

Back pain affects millions of people at any given time and remains a leading cause of disability worldwide. With over 540 million people who suffer from back pain globally, it’s one of the world’s biggest health problems. In fact, spine conditions is known to be one of the top reasons people experience physical pain.

While most back pain resolves on its own within a few weeks, persistent or severe pain may require medical intervention. This is where spinal interventions procedures can make a difference. Learn about back treatments available at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore and how they can help you find the relief you need and get you back to living a healthier life.

What Causes Back Pain?

Your spine, also known as the vertebral column or backbone, is a complex structure of vertebrae, discs, muscles, ligaments, and nerves. It provides support and flexibility to your body. When these components become misaligned, injured, or worn, it affects the spine, often accompanied by back pain.

The causes of back pain are as diverse as the individuals it afflicts. They include:

  • Muscle sprains
  • Ligament strains
  • Age-related disorders like osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint pain
  • Mechanical injury due to overexertion, improper lifting technique, repetitive movements, or traumatic incidents, such as falls or accidents.
  • Structural issues like herniated discs, bulging discs, or sciatica
  • Skeletal irregularities like scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Spinal infections arising from diseases like meningitis
  • Poor posture following prolonged periods of sitting or standing
  • Lifestyle factors like lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking
  • Emotional stress and mental health conditions including stress

Spine basics. Credit: Orthoinfo.aaos.org

What are the Most Common Spine Disorders?

The spine serves as the central support structure and protective casing for the spinal cord. It provides protection to the delicate spinal cord. The nerves branching out from the spinal cord act as messengers that communicate between different parts of the body and the brain.

Pinched Nerve: When nerves branch out through spaces between the 33 individual bones that form the spinal column (the vertebrae), the surrounding bone can put pressure on the nerve becoming a “pinched” nerve by the surrounding tissues, such as bones, muscles, tendons, or cartilage. This pressure can disrupt the nerve’s normal function, leading to symptoms like burning pain, or numbness similar to the feeling of the foot falling asleep. Pinched nerves can happen anywhere in the body but are commonly associated with the spine, where nerves may be compressed due to conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

    Herniated Disc: Intervertebral discs are the cushions or shock absorbers located between the vertebrae (bones) of the spine. These discs have a gel-like inner core (nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosus). When a disc herniates, the gel-like substance from the inner core can leak out or burst from its casing. This puts pressure on nearby nerves or the spinal cord.  This pressure can cause various symptoms, including dull pain in back, arms, or legs, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the area served by the affected nerves. The most common location for a herniated disc is in the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine). They can, however, strike in the upper back as well.

      Herniated disc. Credit: Mayoclinic.org

      Spondylosis: The pars interarticularis is a small bony segment connecting the facet joints in the spine. Spondylosis is a common cause of chronic neck or back pain and often result from age-related wear and tear over the age of 60. However, even athletes involved in activities that require repetitive or excessive backward bending of the spine, like gymnastics or certain sports, may be more prone to developing spondylolysis.

      Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve when it is damaged. This nerve runs from the lower back all the way down through the hips and buttocks to each leg. Sciatica typically results from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, often due to conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or muscle spasms. Symptoms can include pain, tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation from the back radiating to one or both legs.

      Spinal Stenosis is an abnormally small spinal canal or backbone putting pressure on the spine and nerves. It can affect the neck or low back. When the open spaces within the spine narrow is reduced, this puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The pressure can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness, particularly in the back and legs. It’s often associated with aging or degeneration of the spine, but it can also result from other factors like trauma, injuries, herniated discs or bone spurs.

       

      Back Pain Interventional Procedures

      When back pain persists despite conservative measures such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s recommended to seek the expertise of a back pain specialist. You don’t have to live with chronic back pain. Dr. Manish Taneja possesses the knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose the source of your pain and recommend appropriate treatment options that could be causing your back pain.

      Interventional pain management offers a range of minimally invasive techniques to address back pain and provide relief. These procedures target the specific structures responsible for the pain to minimize damage to surrounding tissues and promote faster recovery.

      Interventional Procedures for Back Pain

      Specialized interventions offer a range of procedures that target the source of your pain to improve your quality of life. Popular options include:

      Epidural Steroid Injections: Targeting Inflammation

      Epidural steroid injections are a solution for back pain caused by inflammation of the nerve roots. Ideal for conditions like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy, these injections deliver corticosteroids (powerful anti-inflammatory medications) directly into the epidural space, the area surrounding the spinal cord, and nerve roots. The corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain, providing temporary but significant relief.

      Facet Joint Interventions: Managing Arthritis and Inflammation

      Facet joint syndrome (spinal arthritis) is a condition that inflames the connections between the spine’s bones, resulting in pain and stiffness in the back and neck. Interventions that work for this discomfort include:

      • Facet joint injections: These injections deliver corticosteroids and local anesthetics directly into the facet joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
      • Medial branch blocks: These blocks temporarily disrupt the nerve signals that transmit pain from the facet joint.
      • Radiofrequency ablation: This procedure uses heat to destroy the nerve fibers responsible for pain transmission, offering long-term relief.

      Percutaneous Disc Ablation: Treating Disc-Related Pain

      As mentioned before, discs are the soft, shock-absorbing cushions between the vertebrae of the spine. When a disc herniates or becomes degenerative, it exerts pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness, and tingling.

      Percutaneous disc ablation applies heat or chemicals to shrink or destroy a portion of the herniated or degenerative disc. This provides effective relief while restoring the natural harmony of the spine.

      Sacroiliac Joint Interventions: Addressing Joint Dysfunction

      The sacroiliac joints are located at the base of the spine, where the sacrum connects to the ilium. A dysfunction of these joints is accompanied by pain in the lower back, buttocks, and hips. Sacroiliac joint interventions that help manage this pain and inflammation include:

      • Sacroiliac joint injections: Corticosteroids and local anesthetics are injected directly into the sacroiliac joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
      • Blocks and radiofrequency ablation: These procedures temporarily disrupt the nerve signals that transmit pain from the sacroiliac joint or destroy the nerve fibers responsible for pain transmission, offering long-term relief.

      Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty: Stabilizing Compression Fractures

      Vertebral compression fractures, cracks, or breaks in the vertebrae caused by osteoporosis or other conditions cause severe back pain and deformity. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty inject bone cement into the fractured vertebra to stabilize it, reduce pain, and prevent further damage.

      Advanced Options: Spinal Cord Stimulation and Intrathecal Drug Delivery

      If conservative and minimally invasive procedures are suboptimal to provide adequate relief, advanced options may be considered:

      • Spinal cord stimulator: A small device is implanted in the epidural space, delivering electrical impulses to the spinal cord to mask pain signals and provide relief.
      • Intrathecal drug delivery: A small pump is implanted under the skin, giving pain medication directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, providing more targeted pain relief.

      Treatment for Common Back Pain Conditions at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

      Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic offers a comprehensive range of treatment options for common back pain conditions. Our experienced back pain intervention specialist in Singapore will work closely with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses the specific cause of your pain to provide optimal relief.

      When you visit our clinic, we will take a thorough history of your pain, including when it started, what makes it better or worse, and what treatments you have tried. We will also perform a physical examination to assess your range of motion, strength, and reflexes.
      Based on our evaluation, we may recommend further diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans, or nerve conduction studies. These tests enable us to identify the underlying cause of your pain and determine the most appropriate treatment options.

      When developing your treatment plan, we consider your needs, goals, and preferences because every patient’s back pain is unique and requires a personalized approach. Ready to take the first step towards a pain-free life? Contact us to arrange an appointment. Dr. Manish Taneja is here to help guide you towards a life free from persistent back pain.

      Interventional Pain Management

      If chronic pain has taken control of your life, we’re here to help you regain it. Dr. Manish Taneja, our intervention expert, specializes in interventional pain management treatments, designed to target the root cause of your pain and provide comfort and care.

      Consult an Intervention Specialist for Your Back Pain

      Dr. Manish Taneja, one of the few dual trained and certified neurointerventional and peripheral vascular interventionists in Singapore, has extensive experience in interventional procedures treating patients for interventional pain management since 1995. Come in for a further evaluation and contact us to arrange your back pain appointment today. 

       

      Dr. Manish Taneja performing surgery

      Other Health Conditions

      The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our back pain intervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.