The people who walk into the office of Frank Phillips, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center, are often experiencing ongoing back pain.
Here, Phillips answers some of the questions they most frequently ask.
My back has been hurting for two weeks. Is it serious?
Most people will have an episode of low-back pain at some point in their lives — it's that common, Phillips says. And it's usually not a sign of something dire. "Episodes of back pain are often due to muscular injuries and usually get better within a few weeks," he says. "Treatment can be as simple as rest, anti-inflammatory medicines or a short course of physical therapy."
Is surgery an option?
Even chronic back pain doesn't necessarily mean surgery. "With the majority of patients, we can find ways to manage the pain without surgery," Phillips says. But when someone is a candidate, he adds, surgery can be extremely effective.
What's the recovery from surgery like?
"With modern technologies and less invasive approaches, the recovery is usually easier than what patients may have imagined," Phillips says. Advantages of minimally invasive surgery can include less pain after surgery, a shorter hospital stay and lower risk of infection because of the smaller incision. "Rush has been leading the way with new surgical techniques and the studies that validate them," Phillips says.
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