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Is My Back Pain Severe Enough To Seek Treatment?

No one should live in pain. Dr. Jean Louis Benae weighs in on when to consult a physician.

What are signs that back pain is severe enough to see a doctor?
When the pain becomes intractable and starts to affect your activities of daily living, it’s time to see a doctor. For example, movements such as bending and walking become difficult to carry out or the chronic pain begins to radiate down your lower back and lower extremities and causes numbness or weakness.

What are common causes of back pain in addition to injury?
Degenerative changes in your spine can lead to various parts of your spine being unable to carry out their functions. This will lead to the inability of the spine to support any loading. This can also be reflected by instability as noticed when the spine and spinal cord is engaged in its normal functions such as walking or bending. Pathological changes can occur in such a way that abnormal degenerative tissue builds up around the joints of the spine causing compression upon the nerves. This can compromise the function of the nerves.

“If pain is occurring then there is a cause to that pain, and it is our job to identify the pain generator and address it accordingly.”

Should I just accept that back pain is an inevitable part of getting older?
No, if pain is occurring then there is a cause to that pain, and it is our job to identify the pain generator and address it accordingly.

What are ways to relieve back pain without medicine or surgery?
There are various conservative treatment plan options, such as physical therapy and chiropractic manipulations, which can always be used as a first line of treatment. These techniques can help with some of the back pain, however, when those treatment modalities are not providing sustained relief, one needs a complete neurosurgical evaluation.

Should I need medical help for back pain, what are some of today’s best options?
It is important to obtain a complete and comprehensive evaluation in order to find the true pain generator. When that has been established, a trial of non-surgical treatment modalities should be implemented first. Shall you need a surgical intervention, minimally invasive pain management options should be discussed, and it is important that all providers involved in your care remain in constant communication to ensure that you receive the most efficient treatment plan.

What should I look for in a back specialist?
As a new patient, you should choose a back specialist who prioritizes patient care and takes his or her time to provide a comprehensive evaluation and looks for the true source of your pain. You want a specialist that monitors how you respond to all treatments, including conservative ones. You need a provider who is able to take time to educate you about the disease process and help you choose the best pain treatment option to improve your quality of life and get you the pain relief you deserve.

Born in Cameroon, and raised in Paris, France where he learned to speak French fluently, Dr. Jean Louis Benae came to the United States at age 20 to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He pursued a degree in physiological sciences and graduated with honors. He continued his education at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, where he obtained his medical degree. During his graduate medical education, his fascination for neuroscience led him to a neurotrauma research fellowship with the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. After completing his research fellowship, Dr. Benae began his neurosurgery specialty training at the Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals in Milwaukee. Throughout his extensive training and professional experience, Dr. Benae has accrued remarkable versatility with complex spine and minimally invasive spine surgery. His unique approach to spine care and pain relief involves a comprehensive care model.



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