Local Physician Discusses Best Prevention Methods for Back Pain
Douglas Geiger, MD, is a board-certified spinal surgeon with Trinity Health IHA Medical Group who works primarily out of Chelsea Hospital. Dr. Geiger spoke with the Sun Times News to discuss easy ways people injure their back, ways to prevent back pain, and how common these issues are.
STN: What are some of the not-so-obvious causes of back pain?
Dr. Geiger: Besides some obvious causes such as improper lifting, poor physical conditioning, obesity, and daily wear and tear, there are other things such as smoking and heredity that can cause back pain. Educating patients on the source of their back pain, which might lead to changes in lifestyle, is a part of our role in treating it.
STN: Do back problems increase in the wintertime?
Dr. Geiger: We treat many patients regardless of the time of the year, but we do commonly see people who hurt their back shoveling snow. Another common way people can hurt their back in the winter is by not staying active. I highly encourage people to find ways to stay physically fit in the cold and snowy Michigan winter to avoid any health concerns, including back pain. Going to the gym or finding chores to do around the house that will keep you moving and maintain good muscle tone is the best way to combat the cold winter months.
STN: Not all surgeries are the same, but tell us what the recovery like for the most common back procedures?
Dr. Geiger: Thanks to our procedures being minimally invasive – meaning, we use smaller incisions to access the spine – recovery times have been significantly reduced over the years. When I perform surgeries at Chelsea Hospital, we use magnification and intraoperative imaging to make precise incisions and movements, so the affected area of the spine is safely worked on. Because of this, our patients have less post-operative pain, need less pain medication, and have a quicker recovery.
STN: What are some of the best ways to avoid back problems altogether?
Dr. Geiger: I hate to be the bearer of unwelcome news, but most people will eventually deal with back pain. In fact, it has been estimated that 84 percent of adults will suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their life. It is very hard to avoid, but prevention is possible. The best way to do this is to maintain as high a level of fitness – core strength and cardio especially – as possible. There is also a link between obesity and back pain so, if you are medically able to, manage your weight by having a well-balanced diet and good fitness habits.
STN: Is there anything else you would like people to know?
Dr. Geiger: From the initial consultation to the post-operative checkups, our team of healthcare providers ensure each patient receives the highest quality of care. Our relationship with our patients provides a benefit to all. I always tell my team that patients hopefully bring one of two things – either they have an interesting problem that we can help correct, or they have an interesting story that makes getting to know them very rewarding. We are incredibly engaged with our patients, and I greatly value them from a personal standpoint, even after the surgery is completed. If you are dealing with back pain, we are here for you every step of the way at Trinity Health IHA Medical Group.
For more information or to schedule a consultation appointment, please visit TrinityHealthMI.org/spine.