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Neck And Back Pain

Sara Goel, DO

Board Certified Interventional Pain Management Physician & Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician located in Inner Loop, Medical Center, Rice Village, Houston, TX

If you have neck pain, back pain, or both, there’s no doubt that daily life can be difficult and depressing. At the Houston, Texas, office of double board-certified pain management and rehabilitation physician Sara Goel, DO, you can expect immediate help for your neck and back pain, along with hope for an active and healthy future. Dr. Goel understands that you’d rather avoid surgery and long downtimes, so she prescribes the latest in multidisciplinary nonsurgical solutions to get you feeling better fast. Learn more about your treatment options by calling the office or using the online scheduler now.

Neck and Back Pain Q & A

What causes neck and back pain?

Neck and back pain have many possible causes, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Disc injury
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Joint inflammation 
  • Muscle and tendon strains
  • Ligament sprains
  • Pinched nerves
  • Sciatica 
  • Compression fractures from osteoporosis
  • Scoliosis

Many issues affecting the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) spine are similar, so it's not unusual for neck and back pain to occur together. Being overweight and sedentary can contribute to many types of neck and back pain.

Are neck and back pain normal parts of aging?

Your vertebrae and discs naturally thin and weaken after years of wear and tear. This means your spinal support system doesn't protect the spine as well as before, possibly leading to vertebrae and disc damage. Damaged discs can put pressure on nerves, causing you pain. 

Occasional mild aches and pains aren’t unusual starting around middle age. However, serious cases of neck and back pain are never normal, and you don’t have to live with them. Age-related spine damage is very treatable using nonsurgical strategies, and Dr. Goel is ready to help.

What is the best treatment plan for neck and back pain?

Dr. Goel customizes a multidisciplinary treatment plan that focuses on treating neck or back pain at its origin. Usually, your multipronged treatment includes: 

Medication management

Dr. Goel reviews your pain medications and recommends beneficial changes. Many patients rely on potentially addictive drugs to curb pain because they don’t realize they have other options. 

If you’re ready to change your medication approach, Dr. Goel can help you reduce or even stop using harmful drugs and guide you to better pain relief. 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy helps you improve your spine’s support network by strengthening muscles and improving function. Often, physical therapy includes pain-easing protocols like heat packs, ice application, and ultrasound therapy. 

Interventional pain management

Interventional pain management offers cutting-edge nonsurgical solutions in cases where conservative care doesn’t work. Common treatments for neck and back pain include steroid injections, nerve blocks, and regenerative medicine injections. 

Dr. Goel may also recommend other interventional pain management options if you have stubborn pain. They include an implanted spinal cord stimulator to interrupt nerve signals, vertebroplasty to restore a vertebra, or radiofrequency ablation to deaden a painful nerve. 

Dr. Goel also offers many other nonsurgical solutions for your pain, and she can help you avoid surgery so you can get back to an active life.

What is the sacroiliac joint?

The sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is located in the pelvis; it links the iliac bones (pelvis) to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone). It is an essential component for shock absorption to prevent impact forces from reaching the spine. 

Do you have SI joint problems?

The SI joint is a significant cause of lower back pain. Clinical publications have identified the SI joint as a pain generator in 15-30% of chronic lower back pain patients.In addition, the SI joint is a pain generator in up to 43% of patients with continued or new onset lower back pain after a lumbar fusion.5 Like any other joint in the body, the SI joint can be injured and/or become degenerative. When this happens, people can feel pain in their buttock and sometimes in the lower back and legs. This is especially true while lifting, running, walking or even sleeping on the involved side. According to scientific data, it’s common for pain from the SI joint to feel like disc or lower back pain.

For this reason, SI joint disorders should always be considered in lower back pain diagnosis, especially if you experience one or more of the symptoms listed below:

  • Lower back pain
  • Sensation of low extremity: pain, numbness, tingling, weakness
  • Pelvis/buttock pain
  • Hip/groin pain
  • Feeling of leg instability (buckling, giving way)
  • Disturbed sleep patterns due to pain
  • Disturbed sitting patterns (unable to sit for long periods, sitting on one side)
  • Pain going from sitting to standing

How do you diagnose SI joint pain?

A variety of tests performed during physical examination may help reveal the SI joint as the cause of your symptoms. Sometimes, X-rays, CT-scan or MRI may be helpful in the diagnosis of SI joint-related problems. The most relied upon method to accurately determine whether the SI joint is the cause of your lower back pain symptoms is to inject the SI joint with a local anesthetic. The injection will be delivered under either X-ray or CT guidance to verify accurate placement of the needle in the SI joint. If your symptoms are decreased by at least 50%, it can be concluded that the SI joint is either the source of or a major contributor to your lower back pain. If the level of pain does not change after SI joint injection, it is less likely that the SI joint is the cause of your lower back pain.

What are the treatment options for SI joint pain?

Once the SI joint is confirmed as the cause of your symptoms, treatment can begin. Some patients respond to physical therapy, use of oral medications, or injection therapy. These treatments are often performed repetitively, and frequently symptom improvement using these therapies is temporary. At this point, you and your doctor may consider other options, including minimally invasive surgery.

For the best in customized pain management, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Sara Goel, or book a consultation online now. 

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Neck and Back Pain

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Regenerative Medicine

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