A new study found that back pain patients seek out pain relief before mobility. When back pain patients were asked whether they would want a treatment to ease discomfort or a treatment to help them walk or stand, the majority chose the pain relief form of treatment.
Lead author, Dr. John Markman, said, “There has long been a debate in the medical community over striking the right balance between pain relief and physical function. While physicians have leaned toward the need to increase mobility, this study shows that patients have a clear preference for pain relief.”
Lumbar spinal stenosis results when the vertebrae, discs, joints and ligaments of the spinal column break down – causing the spinal canal to narrow. Compressed nerve roots are what causes the pain, tingling and numbness in the lower back and downward. Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause pain when either standing or walking.
Although surgery can improve lumbar spinal stenosis, not all patients are candidates for the procedure. For temporary relief, steroid injections may be used.
For the study, 270 patients with issues walking or standing and chronic back pain from lumbar spinal stenosis were used. Patients were asked if they would rather have treatment to reduce the pain or treatment to help improve mobility, and the results revealed nearly 80 percent of patients would prefer pain relief treatment.
Markman added, “Even the patients who could not stand long enough to pick up a letter from their mailbox or wash the dishes after dinner chose pain relief. This study convincingly demonstrates the need to prioritize pain relief because that is what patients want.”
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates 11 percent of the American population suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis. The population continues to age, so the number of Americans with lumbar spinal stenosis is expected to hit 2.4 million by 2021.
The findings were published in Neurology.