Make Pain a Thing of the Past – low back pain – Physician Partners of America

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Minimally invasive procedures offer hope for facet arthritis

Facet joint disease is one of the most common back pain problems and is often age-related. It can cause a range of issues from mild discomfort to throbbing pain. For patients who have not achieved results through conservative treatment, minimally invasive laser spine procedures can make a big difference in quality of life.

“The laser is an amazing tool for targeting the nerves that cause pain. It offers great precision and longer lasting results,” says Dr. James St. Louis, director of PPOA’s Minimally Invasive Group.

What are facet joints?

These joints are found on both sides of every vertebra (bone) in the spine. They not only stabilize and hold the spine together; they make it possible for your back to twist. Facets are lined with cartilage that acts as a shock absorber and maintains smooth movement between the vertebrae.

Facet joint disease happens when the joints degenerate to the point where the nerves that exit them are impinged. This can happen by the normal wear and tear as we get older – in short, spine arthritis. These joints can also be damaged through trauma, disease and obesity.

Symptoms of facet arthritis

The condition adds pressure to the nearby nerves and can result in swelling and inflammation. If this occurs in the upper part of the back, it will usually cause pain in the head, neck or shoulders. If it occurs in the mid to lower spine, it can cause radiating pain in the lower back, buttocks or legs. Left to progress, it may cause bone spurs, cysts or thickened ligaments.

This condition goes by different names: facet syndrome, facet arthritis, facet hypertrophy and spinal osteoarthritis. By any name, it should be evaluated and treated if it is causing symptoms. Left to progress, it can cause bone spurs, cysts or thickened ligaments.

Laser spine treatment of facet disease

The laser treats pain-causing nerves with less disturbance to muscle and tissue than other techniques. The result is less trauma to the body and a faster recovery. Our surgeons make a 2-3 mm. incision at the treatment site. A very narrow tube, about the width of a needle, is inserted and guided by live x-ray to the treatment area.  The laser is then threaded through the tube and used to ablate the nerve that is being compressed.

When to seek help for facet syndrome

We should point out that some people with facet joint disease never experience pain; in fact, they are surprised to learn they have this disorder. In others, mild symptoms can be treated with rest, physical therapy, heat therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who live with excruciating pain every day. For those whose quality of life is affected, minimally invasive laser spine procedures can in some cases provide instant relief.

A diagnosis from a Physician Partners of America board certified pain management physician or spine specialist can tell you how severe your particular case is and how it should be treated.

For more information about facet joint disease and treatment options, please contact our minimally invasive laser spine specialists at 855-25-LASER.

Is muscle pain, weakness, or stiffness keeping you tossing and turning each night? If you struggle to find a reason behind this frustration, here’s a possibility that you may not have considered—fibromyalgia. This disorder not only affects memory, concentration, and energy levels, but its associated chronic pain can leave you unable to achieve a restful night of sleep.

The Relationship of Fibromyalgia and Sleep Problems

Fibromyalgia and sleep disturbances go hand in hand: the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia can make it difficult – if not impossible – to achieve the deep and restful sleep that you need to lead a healthy life. Unfortunately, many other common symptoms of fibromyalgia are heightened by a lack of sleep. For a fibromyalgia sufferer, this lack of sleep becomes both a symptom and a trigger, making the management of fibromyalgia sleep problems crucial.

Trigger Point Injections for Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

While there is no one fibromyalgia treatment that works for everyone, the pain management physicians at Physician Partners of America have found that many patients respond well to trigger point injections. In fibromyalgia sufferers, trigger points are areas of acute musculoskeletal pain and spasm; pain often begins in these areas as a result of tension in the muscles and radiates outwards, contributing to the full-body chronic pain that is common to fibromyalgia. Though some trigger points arise as a result of physical trauma, such as bruising or hairline fractures, they can also occur spontaneously when a muscle spasms. These trigger points are a major cause of having difficulty sleeping—not only are they painful on their own, but pressure from the trigger point can cause pain to radiate outwards to the rest of the body.

Trigger point injections, or TPIs, combat the painful effects of trigger points by injecting a small amount of anesthetic, corticosteroid, or muscle relaxant directly into the trigger point itself. This extremely localized treatment provides near-instant relief for trigger point pain and can help fibromyalgia sufferers avoid dependence on painkillers. Even better, our pain relief physicians have found that once treated, individual trigger points rarely reoccur, making TPIs among the longest-lasting relief for fibromyalgia sufferers!

Are you suffering with low back pain?

The back is the workhorse of the human body. The muscles and spine in the back are forced to twist and turn, bend and stretch all sorts of angles throughout the day. Depending on your job, your back may be pulling double-duty at times if constantly lifting heavy objects is involved. Add to this that most people don’t properly lift heavy items correctly, and there’s a recipe for potential future low back pain.

So what is low back pain?

Low back pain is muscle tension and/or stiffness in the area below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds. Put plainly, it is pain experienced anywhere below the ribs and above the legs. One form of low back pain you may be familiar with is sciatica, but this condition can extend further down your leg.

4 Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Pain in the lower back area can be associated with issues of the lumbar spine, vertebral discs, spinal ligaments, or the spinal cord itself. But, it doesn’t stop there. The muscles and nerves of the lower back, as well as the organs located wherein, can also be a contributor, if not the source, of pain.

Considering the several moving parts of the back, there are numerous reasons you could be experiencing low back pain from a sports injury, car accident, fall or an existing medical condition that puts you at further risk of additional disorders.

Four common causes of low back pain are:

  1. Overuse. As the workhorse, the back is constantly put at potential risk for pain with constant, repetitive twisting of the spine and surrounding muscles. It only takes one wrong move to bend or twist too far, or lift a heavy object improperly, for an injury to occur.
  2. Aging. This one is universal. Everyone gets older and their body ages along with them. Through constant overuse as previously mentioned, coupled with the fact that wear-and-tear over the years, cartilage loss, and flexibility loss – to name a few – can severely limit what the body can do. Age takes it’s toll and the back may not be as forgiving as it once was.
  3. Herniated disc. A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery discs between the vertebrae that stack up to make your spine. It is often called a “slipped disc.”
  4. Arthritis. If you’re suffering with painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints, this condition can spread into your lower back and cause problems there as well.

Lower Back Pain Relief at Texas Pain Relief Group

If you’re experiencing lower back pain, our advanced pain management treatments can help. Contact us now or schedule an appointment to see our pain specialists at Texas Pain Relief Group today!