The Total Spine Health Program at Santa Rosa Orthopaedics (SRO) provides comprehensive quality care for spinal disorders in Sonoma County including lower back pain and related health problems.

backache-1620045For so many people suffering from chronic back pain at some point in their lives (about two thirds of Americans) the news out of Loyola University may provide a glimpse of a pain free future. According to an article released by Loyola University Medical Center spine surgeon Beejal Amin, MD a procedure called minimally invasive spinal fusion back surgery offers hope to chronic back pain sufferers with results that include;

• less blood loss
• less postoperative pain
• smaller incisions
• a shorter hospital stay and
• faster recovery and return to work

The fact that minimally invasive spine surgery is much easier on patients is something that Santa Rosa Orthopaedics can verify firsthand based on their own patient experiences and recovery rates. One seven-year study on minimally invasive surgery for lower back pain released just last year also concluded that patients who have low back surgery (minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion), end up better off in many ways than patients who have more invasive surgery to alleviate debilitating pain. Although results with minimally invasive surgery, and particularly spine surgery are so promising for patients experiencing chronic back pain, it’s not the first option for treatment.

Low back pain treatment options vary

“Treatment for back pain depends on the kind of pain a patient is experiencing, and the underlying cause of the discomfort,” explains SRO surgeon Christian Athanassious, M.D. “Surgery for low back pain is generally considered only after symptoms fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment methods first.” Treatments are often prescribed to include; hot or cold packs, physical therapy, moderate exercise routines, pain relievers and sometimes injections.

As back pain responds to nonsurgical treatments a physician or orthopedic surgeon may recommend easing into a more active routine to strengthen the back including; speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding. These types of exercise help to increase muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture.

When low back pain becomes serious

Not everyone experiences the same kind of back pain, and often the cause depends on lifestyle and age. Adults between 30 to 60 year olds are most likely to experience back pain caused by lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease or from a back muscle or soft tissue strain while older adults are more likely to suffer from pain related to joint degeneration caused by osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis or compression fracture.

Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks and falls into the category of ‘chronic’ only when it lasts longer than three months.

Since some symptoms of low back strain can point to more serious conditions, it’s important to consult a doctor when symptoms linger or disrupt normal routines. Any numbness and weakness in the legs, or bowel and bladder problems, can be a sign of nerve damage requiring immediate medical attention.

About Santa Rosa Orthopaedics

When it comes to accessing quality care for spinal disorders and related health problems in Sonoma County, the Total Spine Health Program at SRO provides both patients and referring physicians a complete, balanced approach to the treatment of spinal pathology.

Since there are a wide variety of effective operative and non-operative routes of care that can be taken depending on the nature of patient conditions, it makes sense for spine surgeons and physical therapists to share a role in diagnosing and treating patients with spine problems. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christian Athanassious or Dr. Michael Star of the Total Spine Health Program, call (707) 546-1922 or visit for more information.