Mayo Clinic Minute: How can you avoid surgery for back pain?

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help or miss work. It is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain can range from a muscle aching to a shooting, burning or stabbing sensation. Fortunately, there are measures that can help prevent or relieve most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home treatment and using the body correctly often will heal the back within a few weeks. Dr. Maziyar Kalani, a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon, shares ways you can avoid surgery for back pain.

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Dr. Kalani says there are measures to help assist with most back pain. Medications, physical therapy and exercise can help.

“Our main goal is to try to get you treated nonoperatively. A majority of people will get improvement with just nonoperative, or what we call conservative therapy,” he says.

There are times when surgery for back pain is necessary.

“We tend to see a lot more of things like pinched spinal cords, pinched nerves, instability of the spine. These are things that surgery is quite effective for, of course, after you’ve really gone on through the nonoperative care. When you have surgery on your body, it does change your body. So we want to make sure that you get a really high return on the invasiveness of the surgery. And we try to keep it, of course, as least invasive as possible,” says Dr. Kalani.

For pain after a trauma such as an accident, fall or sports injury, seek immediate medical help or call 911.

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