Interview – Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon Dr. Eric Nottmeier on back pain

Eighty percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health. A recent study found more than a quarter of adults reported having low back pain during the past three months. And those are just complaints about the lower back.

Dr. Eric Nottmeier, Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon

Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, which can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation that leaves the person incapacitated. Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to age-related changes of the spine. Sedentary lifestyles also can set the stage for low back pain, especially when a weekday routine of getting too little exercise is punctuated by strenuous weekend workout.

Most low back pain is acute, or short term, and lasts a few days to a few weeks. It tends to resolve on its own with self-care and there is no residual loss of function.  Treatments generally begin with the least intrusive remedies first, usually prescribed by a primary care provider.  But when rest, ice packs, heat packs, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory injections don’t succeed in alleviating the pain, it’s time to see a surgeon to discuss the problem.  If surgery seems to be the best choice for long-term relief, minimally invasive surgery may be an option and for the right patients, it can offer several advantages.

To hear our interview with Dr. Nottmeier, click on the grey podcast bar below: