Back Pain Specialist

David Wu, MD

Interventional Pain Management Specialist & Orthopedist located in South Bay, Torrance, CA & El Segundo, CA

Back pain is one of the most common forms of chronic pain, affecting approximately 30 million Americans at any given time. Lower back pain is particularly common — it’s a frequent reason for missed work and the No. 1 cause of disability worldwide. At his advanced pain management practice in Torrance, California, Dr. David Wu has the diagnostic tools to uncover the source of your back pain and the expertise to apply the right treatment. If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area and you want long-term back pain relief, call or request your appointment online today.

Back Pain Q & A

What causes back pain?

Your back is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. Any small problem within this intricate structure can make even the simplest movements painful or uncomfortable. Common causes of back pain include:

Degenerative conditions

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory degenerative condition that causes the breakdown of cartilage in the joints of your spine, often leading to lower back pain. Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal that sometimes comes with age, can cause lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain.

Herniated discs

Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. When an intervertebral disc herniates, or ruptures, it can irritate nearby nerves and cause searing back pain that may radiate down one of your legs. Bulging discs that haven’t yet ruptured also can cause back pain.  

Acute injury

Heavy lifting and sudden movements can cause painful microscopic tears in your muscles or ligaments. When an injury causes nerve or tendon damage, it can lead to chronic pain and inflammation that prevents your body from healing normally. Left untreated, injury and inflammation can result in continuous back pain that worsens with time.

Poor posture

Sitting at a desk or standing for long periods can result in back pain, particularly if you have misaligned vertebrae, poor posture, or a lack of proper support.

What factors contribute to back pain?

Although back pain is a problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds, it’s more common among middle-aged and older adults. Several factors may make you more likely to developing back problems as you age, such as:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Extra weight around your midsection
  • Work that requires heavy lifting
  • Playing contact sports
  • Ongoing psychological stress

Smoking cigarettes also increases your chances of developing back pain because it reduces the amount of nutrients and oxygen that reach your spinal discs.

How can I find long-term relief?

Because a proper diagnosis is the first step in finding the best treatment approach for your back pain, Dr. Wu starts with a comprehensive investigation to uncover the underlying cause of your problem. 

Receiving epidural steroid injections in or near your spine is especially effective for reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and improving range of motion. Once you have increased mobility, physical therapy can help you build strength and restore flexibility.  

If your back pain is caused by a degenerative condition or a physical injury, it may respond best to a facet joint injection. This injection, administered directly to the facet joints of your spine, uses a local anesthetic to block the specific nerve signals that are causing pain.  

Radiofrequency ablation (often referred to as RFA) is another treatment method for chronic back pain, especially in the lower back. Dr. Wu utilizes an innovative device by St. Jude Medical called the SimplicityTM Probe. With this technology, a radio wave produces an electrical current which heats up the targeted nerve area. This ultimately results in fewer pain signals from the targeted area, and back pain relief.

Spinal cord stimulation is another effective treatment option for chronic back pain. Dr. Wu provides neurostimulation therapy which involves delivering pulses to nerves along the spinal cord. The pulses change or block pain signals traveling up from your spinal cord. The pain signals are interrupted before reaching your brain and in turn, your back pain is resolved.