Is chronic back pain making you depressed?  Dr. Andrew Block explains.

Chronic pain is a problem affecting nearly 1/3 of the population in the US and depression is one of the problems which can accompany chronic pain. Statistics show about 85% of patients who have chronic pain experience symptoms of depression.

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Sleep disturbance – which includes sleeping too much or too little
  • Appetite disturbance  – eating too much or not eating enough
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Withdrawal from other people
  • Shortened sense of future or a fear of dying
  • Loss of motivation

These symptoms plus a whole host of other symptoms make it very difficult to recover from chronic back pain.  In fact, there are a lot of indications chronic back pain and depression have primarily the same symptoms and they feed off of each other.  For example, when someone is hurting – they don’t sleep well, they lose their motivation and their enjoyment in life, which in turn creates depression and enforces chronic pain.

Fortunately there are many types of treatment available for chronic pain with depression.

Some treatment options of chronic pain with depression include:

  • Anti-depressant Therapy –  Anti-depressants help to relieve the symptoms of depression but because the same biochemical pathways are involved in depression and chronic pain the anti-depressant medication can also have a secondary effect providing some pain relief.
  • Cognitive Therapy – This type of therapy involves helping the patient observe their surroundings and find things they enjoy in their situation even though they are in pain. This helps the patient to be optimistic and the focus is not so much on the pain but the gains and good things in their lives which remain.
  • The above treatments can also be combined with physical therapy exercises and rehabilitation to further help the patient learn ways to manage their pain.

If you are experiencing depression related to chronic back pain, don’t despair.  There are many treatment options available to help you.  Call us today and we can help get you the treatment you need.

Patient of the Month

Robbin Hallford went from unable to stand to increasing the number of yoga classes she teaches thanks to the miracle of 360 fusion.

Baby Boomer Robbin Hallford is a teacher and yoga instructor who can proudly state she is more active now than in her 20’s thanks to the miracle of modern surgery. Hallford, a 48-year old mother of three, underwent a 360 fusion around her L4 and L5 vertebrae in March of 2011. Since that time, she has proven daily that she can stay active and continue teaching yoga. In fact, she is planning to increase the number of classes she is teaching this summer, only a year after surgery.

Surgery was not Hallford’s first choice. After several days of pain and the inability to move her left leg, she attempted to manage the pain with chiropractic treatments. It was during these treatments that x-rays showed the lumbar area to be foggy. The chiropractor suggested an MRI, which Hallford took to a physician who recommended Dr. Michael Duffy of the Texas Back Institute.

Dr. Duffy made every effort to help me control the pain, including steroid shots, pain control and anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately, I had reactions to the medications, particularly the anti-inflammatory,” said Hallford.

Hallford collapsed in her class, which was the final straw. She decided to move forward with back surgery at Texas Back Institute. Dr. Duffy assembled a team of experts to ensure that Hallford’s surgery went smoothly. In March of 2011, they performed a 360 fusion on L4 and L5, giving Hallford much needed relief.

“We knew that Robbin’s condition would be considerably improved by a 360 degree fusion,” said Dr. Duffy. “Having a patient who was so dedicated to post-operative physical therapy certainly expedited her recovery.”

Hallford’sbackground is in physical therapy and kinesiology, so she was well aware of the effort it would take to recover from surgery.

“I was in devastating pain, thinking of giving up my yoga practice and going on disability,” said Hallford. “Thanks to Dr. Duffy and his great team, I am 100% better. I got the life back that I wanted. For me, surgery was the answer.”

Like many baby boomers, Hallford wants to continue an active life on her own terms and not let injuries or aging slow her down.

“My 48 does not look like my mother’s 48 or my grandmother’s. I do more now than I did when I was 20 years old. I’m stronger now. The surgery helped me to be able to keep that,” said Hallford.

Hallford is not a proponent of choosing surgery first. In fact, she chose to use her own knowledge and skills in yoga to postpone surgery as long as possible. In the end, it was the miracle of back surgery that gave her the life she wanted.

“If there is any way, do it without surgery. But it you cannot avoid it – go to TBI. I highly recommend Michael Duffy. To take me from where I was to where I am now, he’s a very skilled physician. The team they put together was top-notch. If you are facing [spine] surgery, I can tell you with all confidence you will get the best treatment and honestly I believe the best outcome.”

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