Options range from doing nothing to undergoing surgery
Host Amber Smith: Here's some expert advice from Dr. HeeRak Kang from Upstate Medical University. What are the options for treating low back pain?
HeeRak Kang, MD: I always tell my patients that there's generally, with myself or any other provider, there's five things you can really do. One, you can do nothing and you can live with it, which is probably what a lot of patients have done.
Two, you can try conservative measures such as like acupuncture, chiropractor, physical therapy, home exercise program. Three, you can try medications. And I try to explain to them medications do have side effects, and I can list those specific ones for the patients.
Four, you can try injections, and understanding that there's always risk and complication with any kind of intervention.
And five, you can do surgery, understanding their risks and possible complications.
I try to go through those five options mainly because I want to also figure out what they've tried. A lot of times they've said they've tried chiropractor or tried PT (physical therapy,) but they haven't tried acupuncture. Or they've tried some medications but maybe they haven't tried them all. So it's kind of my role to figure out what they haven't tried and see if if it's worth it.
You know, a lot of times herniated disks get better with conservative management. And so, I always recommend to my patients, "you don't have to see me. You don't have to see a physical therapist. You don't have to see a chiropractor. You know, you could sign up for the YMCA and use the therapy pool for the next four weeks and see if that will help."
If they're not in severe debilitating pain, they're not having neurological symptoms, weakness, that kind of strange sensation down their leg. If they're not having bowel or bladder issues, then I absolutely encourage patients to do that.
And, you know, a lot of them actually, they get better. And, it's a win for the patient and for myself. You've been listening to physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Dr. HeeRak Kang from Upstate Medical University.