A neurosurgeon may help restore quality of life after back pain.



Dr. Ryan Barrett

Oh, your aching back!

Ever bend down and think, "I hope I can get back up"? If this sounds all-too-familiar, that's because you are one of many who suffer from back pain that affects your quality of life. Back-pain is one of the most common medical conditions, according to the National Institutes of Health.

What's more, back pain is an equal opportunity condition-anyone can have it. There are those who are more likely to experience sharp discomfort or a dull, achy pain in their back, including people who: are older; have poor physical fitness; are overweight; have genes that make it more likely for them to have some causes of back pain, such as arthritis; have cancer; work in a job that involves either sitting all day or requires them to lift, push or pull; smoke; are female and black. Black women are two to three times more likely than white women to have low back pain from a part of their spine slipping out of place, according to the NIH.

The NIH recommends seeing a doctor for back pain if you have: pain after a fall or an injury; numbness or tingling; severe pain that doesn't improve with rest; back pain plus trouble urinating, weakness, numbness in your legs, fever or unexplained weight loss.

Most people with back pain start with their primary care physician, but they may refer you to a specialist such as a neurosurgeon.

"This is a good time to dispel the myth that surgeons only want to treat you with surgery," says Dr. Ryan Barrett, neurosurgeon at McLaren Lapeer Region. "We have many different treatment options for people with low back pain that can make dramatic improvements in their quality of life."

At McLaren Lapeer Region, board-certified neurosurgeons have extensive experience and interest in treating pain and degenerative conditions of the spine. They work closely with other specialist to explore non-surgical treatments, trying to keep surgery as a last resort. If the need for surgery arises, they're experts in minimally invasive surgery that carries less risk for side effects like infection, and usually means a quicker recovery. The neurosurgical team specializes in treating complex spinal disorders ranging from degenerative conditions of the spine to oncological disorders such as primary and metastatic tumors.

If you are experiencing back pain, your primary care physician is your greatest resource in helping you decide if you should see a surgeon.

For more information on back pain, visit mclaren.org/lapeerregion.