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Why Does My Back Hurt?

Is back pain treatable? Do I need surgery?

Many people live in pain because they believe there’s no cure for an aching back.

Sometimes, these fears are validated by a physician and may require surgery or other treatment.

While back pain and injuries can be difficult to treat, there are ways to lessen and prevent problems.

An integrative approach, involving doctors and therapists, may increase your chances of curing a back-related ailment.

Spinal surgery is sometimes an option, but only after you and your doctors have exhausted all the nonsurgical treatments.

Why Does My Back Hurt?

The majority of back related issues surface as lumbar spine (lower back) symptoms. These symptoms may begin abruptly or gradually.

The underlying causes vary. In some cases, the acute onset of pain may stem from traumatic injuries.

For example, a car accident, a direct blow to the lower back, or a fall, may trigger the onset of lumbar spine symptoms.

Lower back pain is also associated with non-traumatic causes. These include reduced flexibility, physical and mental stress and improper posture and movements.

Prevent Back Pain

You can take measures to avoid back pain. Improving your posture may lessen your pain or prevent it altogether. Sit and stand properly to reinforce healthy habits.

Your head and shoulders should remain upright and straight. Avoid prolonged sedentary behavior as this can complicate back pain.

Improving our body’s movement or mechanics may also reduce or prevent back pain. For example, people who lift objects incorrectly are more likely to have back pain.

When lifting things, it is important to use the body’s stronger, lower muscles, rather than upper body muscles.

This means your knees and using your glutes and legs. Twisting while lifting is also not recommended.

Stress management is imperative to prevent back pain. The onset of stress can lead to unbearable bouts of inflammation.

Therefore, simple stress management techniques, including meditation or visualization, can decrease your chances of lumbar pain. Strength training is key to fortifying your back.

Regular exercise, three to five times per week, can improve both strength and flexibility.

These techniques may improve back health, but if you experience pain for more than a few days, consult a physician.

Non-Invasive Treatments for Back Pain

Before heading into the doctor’s office, try out these conservative treatments for minor to moderate back pain.

There is a good chance you’ll be able to alleviate much of your discomfort without needing to go under the knife.

Icing problem areas or applying heating pads on an interval schedule can provide some quick relief to common aches and pains.

If the back pain does not subside, some patients find a more intensive approach, such as spinal injections or physical therapy, are useful to get back problems under control and keep them from coming back worse than before.

One can also consider acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Do I Need Surgery?

In most cases, spinal surgery becomes an option for patients when less invasive treatments have not worked.

Conservative treatments can usually take care of minor injuries, but for certain back problems, including herniated disks and genetic conditions, spinal surgery is a necessity.

Below are some common reasons that patients may need a back surgeon:

Compressed nerves

Symptoms for compressed nerves usually include pain or numbness in one or more legs or arms.

Failure to find relief for compressed nerves is a typical reason for meeting with a back surgeon. There are two common causes of this condition.

Slipped or ruptured disk: Occurs when disks are pressed too tightly against a spinal nerve.

Bone spurs: This excess bone makes it difficult for nerves to pass through openings along the spine.


This is a degenerative spinal condition where the protective bony canal around the spinal cord is narrowed.

Symptoms may include weakness or numbness in legs and arms, neck pain, back pain and cramping in one or both legs.

Improvements in Back Surgery

Back surgery techniques have improved over the years. Dr. Kuether, a Portland, Oregon spinal surgeon, can perform many procedures using minimally invasive techniques.

Rather than open surgery, Dr. Kuether operates via a small catheter. Patients heal faster and with less pain because incisions are minuscule.

Typically, doctors, therapists, and patients work jointly to formulate plans for recovery and care. A team-based approach is the most efficient way to back pain recovery.

Doctors bestow the benefit of powerful medical prescriptions. Therapists put together plans that guide their patients to recovery.

Speak with a Spine Surgeon in Portland, Oregon

Spinal surgery is ultimately a decision between you and your surgeon. Dr. Todd Kuether is a neurosurgeon in Portland, Oregon at Kuether Brain and Spine, he works with patients who require brain surgery or spinal surgery. His expertise includes endovascular aneurysm and stroke treatment.