Better or Worse?
December 10, 2019
Back pain is widespread, it seems. In fact, nine out of 10 adults report experiencing back pain at some point in their lives. And for good reason. While the back is designed to provide the body strength and stability, it's a complex, flexible and mobile structure under continuous stress.
It's also where the highly sensitive spinal cord is found, along with the nerve roots for all our appendages.
As we said, stress on the back is continuous; from normal daily activities such as sitting and walking to working out, the back is regularly at risk of micro-injuries.
Some contributors to the development of back pain include age-related wear and tear, excess weight, and sedentary living. These factors result in conditions such as disc degeneration, bulging discs and spinal stenosis.
Other factors in back pain include occupational hazards or risks that develop in the workplace, such as repetitive bending, lifting, prolonged standing or sitting for long periods.
In many cases, back pain intensifies in the affected region or radiates to lower limbs. Many sufferers report feeling numbness and muscle weakness in legs, problems controlling bowel and bladder functions, weight loss, and lack of sleep due to discomfort.
While 90 percent of individuals reporting back pain find their condition resolved within six weeks, 2 to 7 percent of individuals living with back pain end up with chronic discomfort.
That adds another level of discomfort: economic burden. The economic burden of back pain develops when work is missed and productivity is lost due to pain and discomfort or from recovery from procedures to treat the condition.
Sometimes, it's the procedures themselves that result in extra economic burden, and we're not talking about copays or coinsurance. We're talking about if the procedure leaves the patient in the same pain or worse than before.
"Spinal procedures - although common - are serious procedures, which have serious consequences if the spinal cord or any nerves are affected or damaged," said Dr. Faisal R. Jahangiri of AXIS Neuromonitoring in Richardson, Texas.
These consequences include pain, limited mobility, muscle weakness, foot drop and partial or complete paralysis in limbs.
AXIS helps to reduce the risk of post-surgical problems for individuals undergoing spinal procedures through intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, or IONM.
"IONM is used to monitor spinal cord and nerve sensory and motor function during surgery," Jahangiri said.
During spinal procedures, technologists working for AXIS work alongside surgeons, but instead of operating, they watch what is happening to the patient on an array of diagnostic tools.
"If something changes in the patient, the technologist immediately lets the surgeon know to change their course," Jahangiri said.
Changing the course of the procedure could change the life of the patient, too, and for the better.
In a recent surgery, an AXIS technologist noticed changes in a patient undergoing surgery for spinal stenosis. The patient's somatosensory evoked potentials decreased in their right leg, which led to an adjustment in the patient's blood pressure. After the adjustment, the patient's SSEP response improved.
The risk of not having IONM in the operating room at the moment could have meant a life sentence of pain, numbness, weakness and paralysis because of lack of oxygen and blood flow to the spinal cord.
"Post-surgical complications can be both life-altering and costly," Jahangiri said.
Source: Medical News Today. What is causing this pain in my back? 23 February 2017.