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A possible diagnosis for lower back pain

Last Modified: October 27, 2017

Diseases & Disorders, Family Medicine

back pain

From busy professionals tethered to their desks to older adults facing frustrating limitations, back pain is everywhere. Ahmer Ghori, MD, explains that back pain can almost always be attributed to one of the following: degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis or radiculopathy. Here, we take a closer look at degenerative disc disease.

A patient experiencing degenerative disc disease (DDD) would likely check the following boxes:

  • They are in their 20s – 40s
  • They experience chronic pain
  • The pain is worse when sitting
  • The pain improves with standing
  • The pain is worse with flexion
  • The pain improves with extension

Someone with DDD might say things like, “It’s worse when I sit in my car,” or “I can’t bend over to lift anything.”

To treat DDD, Dr. Ghori would recommend:

  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy, including muscle strengthening and posture training
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (No narcotics)

While this often provides relief, it is not guaranteed. A patient will be considered a surgical candidate if they’ve had 1–2 years of physical therapy while taking NSAIDS and seen no relief. The patient would also need to have a healthy BMI and not be experiencing any psychosocial issues.


To learn more about back pain and degenerative disc disease, as well as other conditions, including spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and radiculopathy, join Dr. Ghori for a Back Pain Lunch and Learn.




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