Back Pain Specialist

St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine

Miguel Pappolla, MD, PhD

Neurology & Pain Medicine located in the Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX

If you've given up on finding an effective treatment for your back pain, board-certified neurologist Miguel Pappolla, MD, at St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine in Houston, Texas, could give you new hope. Dr. Pappolla and his team are experts in treating chronic back pain, using minimally invasive epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation nerve treatment, and spinal cord stimulation for treatment-resistant conditions. You can benefit from their experience by calling the office or booking an appointment online today.

Back Pain Q & A

What are the causes of back pain?

Back pain is most commonly due to problems in your neuromusculoskeletal system — the bones, joints, nerves, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that make up your spine. Conditions that often cause this type of mechanical back pain include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Scoliosis
  • Herniated disc 
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Strains or sprains
  • Leg length difference
  • Restricted hip motion
  • Misaligned pelvis
  • Vertebral compression fractures

Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and arachnoiditis are other possible causes, as are infections in the bones, discs, or soft tissues, and spinal tumors.

Acute injuries from falls, playing sports, auto accidents, and overexertion typically cause sudden back pain, while repetitive strain injuries and degenerative conditions develop slowly. 

Either may cause nerve compression or irritation in your spine (radiculopathy), which is often responsible for back pain.

How is back pain diagnosed?

When you attend St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine, Dr. Pappolla conducts a detailed neurological assessment and a thorough physical examination to determine the cause of your back pain.

He also discusses your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle to help identify your pain generators — the cause of your pain. You may need diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays or a CT or MRI scan to enable Dr. Pappolla to see the internal structures of your back in detail.

If your back pain originates in the spinal discs between your vertebrae, you might benefit from a discogram. This radiological exam stimulates the affected disc to help identify the source of your pain, and produces detailed images of the disc. 

An electromyogram (EMG) can help locate any nerve dysfunction.

How is back pain treated?

The treatment Dr. Pappolla prescribes for your back pain depends on what's causing the problem and how severely it's affecting you. This is why it's so important to find your pain generators rather than masking your pain with medication. Treating the source provides long-term relief and improved mobility even in patients who’ve been in pain for years.

Noninvasive treatments like rest or activity modification, physical therapy, and careful use of anti-inflammatory medicines may be all you need for acute or mild chronic back pain. 

Dr. Pappolla also uses regenerative medicine techniques such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) injections.

If these measures are insufficient, you could benefit from advanced options like facet joint injections, epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation. For some patients, surgery may be the best option.

Find the cause of your back pain and get the right treatment at St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine. Call or book an appointment online today.