Chronic Low Back Pain

Helping you get back to enjoying the activities you love

If you experience low back pain for more than three months, you have chronic low back pain. Nearly eight out of 10 people experience low back pain at some point in their lives.

IU Health physicians understand how chronic low back pain can keep you from working, enjoying the things you love or even just getting out of bed.

Many things can cause chronic low back pain, such as a herniated disc, peripheral neuropathy or spinal stenosis, where the space around your spinal cord narrows due to osteoarthritis.

In most cases, the natural process of aging or overuse causes chronic low back pain. In rare cases, inherited conditions such as Marfan syndrome cause low back pain.

Overview

Many things can cause chronic low back pain, such as a herniated disc, peripheral neuropathy or spinal stenosis, where the space around your spinal cord narrows due to osteoarthritis.

In most cases, the natural process of aging or overuse causes chronic low back pain. In rare cases, inherited conditions such as Marfan syndrome cause low back pain.

Your IU Health physician will use a physical examination and imaging procedures to diagnose the cause of your back pain. He or she will ask you when your pain started, its location, its severity and other questions. Describing your pain honestly and openly will help your physician to provide the best diagnosis.

Your physician may use X-rays, ultrasounds and electromyography (EMG) to check for issues with bone growth, herniated discs or nerve damage.

Diagnosis

Your IU Health physician will use a physical examination and imaging procedures to diagnose the cause of your back pain. He or she will ask you when your pain started, its location, its severity and other questions. Describing your pain honestly and openly will help your physician to provide the best diagnosis.

Your physician may use X-rays, ultrasounds and electromyography (EMG) to check for issues with bone growth, herniated discs or nerve damage.

IU Health’s nationally-recognized team of highly skilled physicians will work with you to find the treatment options that fit your individual needs and preferences. Your physicians will give you access to advanced pain management and comprehensive support to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

The cause of your back pain will determine which treatments work best for you. Physical therapy, rest, pain medicines or surgery can all play a role in pain relief.

With the largest network of primary care and specialty physician practices in Indiana, IU Health physicians offer a wide range of treatments for chronic low back pain. You can find the option that best fits your lifestyle and needs:

Injection Therapy

Steroids reduce inflammation and swelling in your back, reducing pain. By injecting steroid medicines directly into the problem area causing your pain, you may experience longer-lasting relief. Steroids can have side effects such as elevated blood pressure or weight gain, so you should work with your physician to manage any of these problems. Injections can be repeated multiple times.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps you reset and recalibrate with exercises and other tools to regain strength, endurance, posture and movement. Learn more about physical therapy at IU Health.

Antidepressants

Chronic pain can cause depression and anxiety. These conditions keep you from experiencing the full effectiveness of your pain treatment. If you begin feeling depressed or anxious, our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and help your pain treatments work better for you.

Psychological Counseling

Chronic pain can cause depression and anxiety. These conditions keep you from experiencing the full effectiveness of your pain treatment. If you begin feeling depressed or anxious, our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and help your pain treatments work better for you.

Narcotic Pain Medicines

In extreme cases, physicians prescribe narcotic pain medicines to relieve back pain. These, combined with other therapies, can increase your relief. Because narcotic pain medicines can cause serious side effects and dependence, it is critical that you take the medicines exactly as prescribed.

Referral to Surgical Specialists

In some cases, you may benefit from a surgical procedure to correct back pain. Your physician can refer you to an IU Health orthopedic or neurosurgery specialist who can perform advanced spinal surgeries to relieve your pain.

    Treatment

    IU Health’s nationally-recognized team of highly skilled physicians will work with you to find the treatment options that fit your individual needs and preferences. Your physicians will give you access to advanced pain management and comprehensive support to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

    The cause of your back pain will determine which treatments work best for you. Physical therapy, rest, pain medicines or surgery can all play a role in pain relief.

    With the largest network of primary care and specialty physician practices in Indiana, IU Health physicians offer a wide range of treatments for chronic low back pain. You can find the option that best fits your lifestyle and needs:

    Injection Therapy

    Steroids reduce inflammation and swelling in your back, reducing pain. By injecting steroid medicines directly into the problem area causing your pain, you may experience longer-lasting relief. Steroids can have side effects such as elevated blood pressure or weight gain, so you should work with your physician to manage any of these problems. Injections can be repeated multiple times.

    Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy helps you reset and recalibrate with exercises and other tools to regain strength, endurance, posture and movement. Learn more about physical therapy at IU Health.

    Antidepressants

    Chronic pain can cause depression and anxiety. These conditions keep you from experiencing the full effectiveness of your pain treatment. If you begin feeling depressed or anxious, our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and help your pain treatments work better for you.

    Psychological Counseling

    Chronic pain can cause depression and anxiety. These conditions keep you from experiencing the full effectiveness of your pain treatment. If you begin feeling depressed or anxious, our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and help your pain treatments work better for you.

    Narcotic Pain Medicines

    In extreme cases, physicians prescribe narcotic pain medicines to relieve back pain. These, combined with other therapies, can increase your relief. Because narcotic pain medicines can cause serious side effects and dependence, it is critical that you take the medicines exactly as prescribed.

    Referral to Surgical Specialists

    In some cases, you may benefit from a surgical procedure to correct back pain. Your physician can refer you to an IU Health orthopedic or neurosurgery specialist who can perform advanced spinal surgeries to relieve your pain.

      Mar 07

      Together as always, back-to-back

      After more than 60 years of marriage, you get used to doing things together — including having back surgery in the same week. Dean Shoff, 87, says he had immediate relief post-surgery for spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis happens when the space inside the spinal canal shrinks. This puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spinal canal. It commonly occurs lower back, which for Dean was in his lumbar spine. The condition is often caused by age-related wear and tear. Some people have no symptoms. Unfortunately for Dean, that was not the case. After suffering with symptoms for a year and a half, he shares, “I could hardly walk a couple of weeks before the surgery.” Dean and Phyllis Shoff The Shoffs live on a farm in Flora, Ind. Although retired, Dean still takes care of the chickens. He had to stop taking care of them last summer because it was just too painful. He was relying heavily on a walker to get around. ‘Spinal stenosis can lead to the slow but steady loss of strength in the legs,” explains Rayhan Jalal, MD, FRCSC, orthopedics and sports medicine surgeon who operated on Dean at Arnett

      Together as always, back-to-back image.

      Patient Stories for Chronic Low Back Pain

      Mar 07

      Together as always, back-to-back

      After more than 60 years of marriage, you get used to doing things together — including having back surgery in the same week. Dean Shoff, 87, says he had immediate relief post-surgery for spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis happens when the space inside the spinal canal shrinks. This puts pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spinal canal. It commonly occurs lower back, which for Dean was in his lumbar spine. The condition is often caused by age-related wear and tear. Some people have no symptoms. Unfortunately for Dean, that was not the case. After suffering with symptoms for a year and a half, he shares, “I could hardly walk a couple of weeks before the surgery.” Dean and Phyllis Shoff The Shoffs live on a farm in Flora, Ind. Although retired, Dean still takes care of the chickens. He had to stop taking care of them last summer because it was just too painful. He was relying heavily on a walker to get around. ‘Spinal stenosis can lead to the slow but steady loss of strength in the legs,” explains Rayhan Jalal, MD, FRCSC, orthopedics and sports medicine surgeon who operated on Dean at Arnett

      Together as always, back-to-back image.

      OrthoInfo

      Learn about the causes of low back pain and their treatments on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

      Resources

      OrthoInfo

      Learn about the causes of low back pain and their treatments on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.