Dealing with lower back pain

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Q. For a few years I have been suffering severe lower back pain (located in L4 and L5). I have had facet injections for short term pain relief. What are any possible longer term solutions to consider?
Joseph B., Melvindale

A. A longer-term solution is called radiofrequency
ablation. It is a minimally invasive, outpatient
procedure that involves applying heat to certain nerves to interrupt pain signals sent to your body. Relief usually lasts about six-to-nine months. It is safe to have repeat procedures as needed.

Q. I have a prescription for medication to relieve my chronic pain. Should I take it only when the pain is unbearable? Mira M., Dearborn

A. You should take your medication as prescribed by your physician. If you are taking an opiate,
you could experience withdrawal if you stop taking them (symptoms may include sweating, shaking, anxiety, muscle aches, runny nose). Always communicate with your prescribing physician for instructions on properly changing your medication instructions.

Q. Is it possible that chronic lower back pain can damage nerves in your digestive system and cause constipation too? Would steroid injections
help? Steve R., Canton

A. Chronic pain can damage nerves, but it is highly unlikely that it has damaged nerves in your digestive system. It is likely that your constipation is a side-effect of consuming pain medications.

Let your prescribing physician know about the side-effect you are experiencing.

Lumbar epidural steroid injections may be helpful for managing your back pain; they should allow
relief so that you can reduce or eliminate pain medications long enough to get to a normal routine.

Daniel Mekasha,M.D., is board-certified in anesthesiology and pain management. His practice,
MAC Pain & Spine Institute, is at 13383 Reeck Court in Southgate. Do you have a health question for Dr. Mekasha? Submit it by email to: askthedoctor@cscmi.net.

All information provided in Ask The Doctor is intended for your general knowledge. Consult with your personal doctor or pharmacist for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information you have read in any publication.