Back Pain: When Is it Time for Spine Surgery?


A majority of American adults have experienced back pain at one point in their lives. Common culprits include yard work, overdoing it while exercising, or merely turning too quickly. Chronic conditions, like arthritis, can also cause pain in the back and neck areas. No matter what the source, back pain can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life.

Treatment options for back pain

The first stop for patients with back pain should be their primary care physician. Speak with your physician about how and when the pain started. Treatment options include exercises to strengthen your core muscles and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines like Aleve, Motrin, or Advil.

“A majority of back pain is muscular in origin, so it typically is treated without major medical intervention,” says John Jacquemin, MD, an affiliated orthopaedic spine surgeon with OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine practicing at the St. Elizabeth Spine Center. “However, patients experiencing neurologic symptoms of weakness or numbness down the arms or legs should be seen by a specialist right away.”

For patients experiencing general back pain, Dr. Jacquemin suggests trying recommended exercises and anti-inflammatory medications for a few months. If there is still no improvement, your primary care physician may recommend an X-ray and refer you to a physical therapist. The X-ray will help rule out anything serious and may pinpoint the cause of your back pain.  

Spine surgery at the St. Elizabeth Spine Center

Back pain typically resolves itself within a few weeks to months. However, for patients who don’t benefit from rest, lifestyle modifications, medications, and physical therapy, it might be time to see a spinal specialist.

The St. Elizabeth Spine Center is a state-of-the-art facility that offers tri-state patients comprehensive spinal care. Our team of spine experts will work closely with you to determine the source of your pain and recommend a customized care plan.

Many St. Elizabeth Spine Center patients have experienced degenerative changes in their spine that affect their cervical, lumbar or thoracic areas. Pinched nerves and slipped discs can cause significant back, arm, or leg pain and affect a patient’s neurologic function. In some cases, the spine can also become unstable and require surgical stabilization. In these scenarios, spine surgery can improve a patient’s ability to function as well as their quality of life.

“If you operate for the right reasons, you can have a tremendous positive impact on patient’s lives,” says Dr. Jacquemin. “The patient can go from a debilitating situation where they are unable to enjoy their regular activities to a fully functioning and lifestyle.”

Free back pain webinar

To watch the FREE educational webinar and to learn more about back pain and comprehensive treatment options available at St. Elizabeth Healthcare visit