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What is Back Pain?

To those of you seeking back pain treatment in NYC, know that you are not alone. An unknown fact is that more than 75% of people experience persistent or intermittent back pain. By “back pain” we are referring to any area of the back rather than only a specific location. Commonly, people report pain in the lower area of the back or the lumbar section.

Part of understanding what back pain consists of is knowing the difference between two different kinds of pain that are commonly experience - chronic and acute:

  • Chronic pain is typically when the pain is recurrent or exists for more than 3 months at a time. This type of pain often will increase over time and slowly; it is not a severe or sharp pain for the most part.
  • Acute pain, however, is generally severe and occurs suddenly. This type of pain often lessens or goes away within a few weeks and is not considered persistent, like chronic pain.

Both forms of back pain can be a hindrance to your usual lifestyle, physical activity, and wellbeing.

What Are the Sources of Back Pain?

Acute back pain can result from strain or sprain of the spinal musculature and often resolves with time and limited non-operative treatment. Other common conditions we see that result in back pain, here are the top culprits:

Vertebral compression fracture

A vertebral compression fracture is a condition characterized by the collapse or compression of one or more vertebral bones in the spine, often resulting from osteoporosis, trauma, or other underlying conditions. It can lead to severe pain, loss of height, spinal deformity, and limited mobility.

Spinal osteoarthritis (Spondylosis)

Spinal osteoarthritis, also known as spondylosis, is a degenerative condition that affects the joints and discs in the spine. It involves the breakdown of cartilage, causing pain, stiffness, and the formation of bone spurs in the spinal vertebrae, potentially leading to nerve compression and reduced mobility.

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal or neural foramina, leading to the compression of spinal nerves. It commonly causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, and difficulty walking due to the pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition characterized by the gradual deterioration and breakdown of the intervertebral discs in the spine. It can result in chronic back or neck pain, stiffness, limited mobility, and potential nerve compression due to the loss of disc height and cushioning between the vertebrae.

Herniated disc

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when the gel-like material inside a spinal disc protrudes through a tear in the disc's outer layer. This can lead to nerve compression or irritation, causing symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness along the affected nerve pathway.

Scoliosis, Kyphosis, or Flat Back

Scoliosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, often resulting in an S or C shape. Kyphosis refers to an excessive forward curvature of the upper back, leading to a rounded or hunched posture. Flat back syndrome is a condition where the normal curvature of the spine is reduced, resulting in a flattened appearance of the back and potential issues with balance and posture.

When Should I Visit My Doctor for Back Pain?

As an expert in back pain treatment in NYC, rest assured that any form or level of pain you are experiencing is worth treating to Dr. Stieber. From minor injuries or discomfort, to severe injuries or physical incapacitation, he’s seen it all.

Even the simplest activity or seemingly small injury can cause extreme pain, whereas larger injuries could potentially cause less apparent pain. In both scenarios, we’d recommend a consultation with a doctor experienced in back pain.

Below are several back pain scenarios that would warrant a visit or call to your doctor:

  • Pain that is persistent, severe, or sudden
  • Pain resulting from an injury like an accident or fall
  • Pain accompanied by a fever
  • Pain that is accompanied by weakness or loss of sensation in your lower extremities
  • Pain that makes its way down your extremities
  • Pain in conjunction with bowel or bladder issues
  • Loss of sensation or tingling in your genital or buttocks area

How Can I Get a Diagnosis for My Back Pain in NYC?

Getting an accurate diagnosis from a credentialed and experienced doctor is the first step to addressing and alleviating back pain, whether it’s acute or chronic pain you’re experiencing.

When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Stieber, he will perform a thorough examination of your back, taking into consideration all of the details you will have given him about your situation and symptoms. At this time, he will also want to determine your present pain levels by asking you to perform a few simple actions, such as walking, sitting, and standing.

Often the initial examination is enough to determine what route to take in addressing the back pain and the source of it. There are, however, cases in which Dr. Stieber will recommend additional testing to further pinpoint the source of your symptoms.

The tests that will typically be recommended are:

Back Pain Treatment NYC

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests (radiology studies) are an important part of diagnosis and treatment planning. These tests include X-ray, MRI, or CT scans—among others. While various x-rays and CT (computerized tomography) studies visualize the bones and skeleton, MRI is able to also visualize the soft tissues such as the intervertebral discs, ligaments, cartilage, joints, and neurologic structures including the spinal cord and nerve roots. In most cases, multiple imaging modalities are necessary to make the right diagnosis. The information gathered from these tests will assist Dr. Stieber in determining the source of your back pain and painting a better picture of what is going on internally.

Blood Tests

There are times when Dr. Stieber may recommend that patients get blood testing done. While this is not very common, there are some scenarios where back pain can be caused by or related to an infection within the body. A blood test would confirm it either way.

Nerve Studies

When spinal stenosis or nerve compression are thought to be a source of the back pain one is experiencing, Dr. Stieber may recommend that nerve studies are done. Nerve studies such as electromyelogram (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) can be helpful tools to evaluate the location and type of nerve injury or disease.

Nuclear Medicine Scans

If Dr. Stieber suspects that your back pain may be caused by a bone lesion or compression fracture, he may recommend a bone scan or other nuclear medicine study. These specialized studies may also be ordered to evaluate other less common diagnoses.

Patient Testimonial

"Dr. Stieber performed a MIS TLIF at L4 / L5 in January 2015. At a year and a half, I am pain free and doing well. The man is a life saver. I have and will continue to recommend him to anyone experiencing back pain."


What Treatments Are There in NYC for Back Pain?

After you’ve had an examination with Dr. Stieber and have done any additional testing he has recommended, you will receive his professional diagnosis. He will work with you to create a customized plan for your back pain treatment in NYC, with the sole intention of giving you the optimal amount of relief for the pain you are experiencing.

The personalized treatment plan Dr. Stieber provides to you will take a few things into account - the duration and severity of your symptoms, as well as the underlying cause(s) of your back pain that was determined through examination and/or testing.

Most of our NYC back pain patients get the best results from a mix of personalized treatment approaches. Typically, both physical therapy and medication will be involved. In the rare instance that Dr. Stieber concludes that surgery is your best treatment option, he will discuss that approach with you.

Back Pain Treatment NYC

Physical Therapy

One of Dr. Stieber’s top recommendations in the majority of his personalized back pain treatment plans is physical therapy. During physical therapy, the patient is instructed on how to strengthen muscles, improve posture, and increase flexibility. This form of treatment is done by experts who may also utilize a variety of modalities, including heat treatment, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound to reduce one’s pain.


Depending upon your personalized treatment plan from Dr. Stieber, he will likely recommend that you take specific medications to assist in your healing process and to address the pain you are experiencing.

Medication for back pain can come in many forms, such as:

  • Topical pain relievers
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Narcotics
  • Oral Steroids


While there are some cases that warrant surgery, Dr. Stieber is typically able to treat most of his back pain patients without surgery.

If surgery is recommended, Dr. Stieber will discuss that treatment option with you in detail. As a leader in and advocate for minimally invasive back surgery, he uses advanced techniques and expertise when restoring mobility to the back.

Why Choose Dr. Stieber as Your Back Pain Specialist in NYC?

As one of the top spine surgeons in New York, Dr. Jonathan Stieber is known for excellence. He is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon with 15 years of experience who brings an exceptional level of patient care to his work. As a leader and authority in his field, Dr. Stieber is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU School of Medicine and a Director of the Spine Center at OrthoManhattan. He has been honored by being named a Castle Connolly Top Doctor for 2022 and a New York Magazine Best Doctor for 2021. For more information on back pain treatment in NYC please contact us.

Back Pain Treatment NYC

FAQ Back Pain

    What are the common causes of back pain?

    Back pain can stem from various factors, including muscle strain, ligament sprain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, and skeletal irregularities.

    How can I prevent back pain?

    Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, exercising regularly, using proper lifting techniques, and avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help prevent back pain.

    What are the treatment options for back pain?

    Treatment options for back pain may include physical therapy, medication, injections, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and, in some cases, surgical intervention. Our specialists will tailor a treatment plan to address your specific needs.

    When should I seek medical attention for back pain?

    It is advisable to seek medical attention if your back pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or bowel or bladder changes.

    What role does physical therapy play in managing back pain?

    Physical therapy aims to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, improve flexibility, and promote proper body mechanics to alleviate back pain and prevent its recurrence.

    Can back pain be related to stress or emotional factors?

    Yes, emotional stress and anxiety can contribute to back pain. Our holistic approach addresses the mind-body connection to optimize your overall well-being.

    How can I manage back pain at home?

    Applying ice or heat, practicing gentle stretching exercises, using over-the-counter pain relievers, and maintaining a supportive mattress and ergonomic workspace can help manage back pain at home.

    What are the benefits of chiropractic care for back pain?

    Chiropractic care focuses on spinal manipulation and alignment to alleviate back pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall spinal health.

    What are the risks of prolonged untreated back pain?

    Prolonged untreated back pain can lead to decreased mobility and may contribute to the development of chronic pain conditions.

    How can I determine the best approach for treating my back pain?

    At our practice, Dr. Stieber, is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to address your back pain and improve your overall quality of life. We understand the impact back pain can have on daily activities and are committed to guiding you toward effective solutions tailored to your needs. Rest assured, Dr. Stieber’s focus is to help you return to regular activity and prevent further progression of your condition whenever possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards finding relief from back pain.

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