An episode of lower back pain is experienced by at least 80% of the population in their lifetime and is one of the most common reasons a patient consults their general practioner. The good news is that for the vast majority of patients time, simple analgesia (pain medication) and simple remedies organised by their general practioner will be adequate to help them improve.
Pain arising from the back may also radiate down the leg and down the arm. Causes of this may include nerve compression due to disc herniation, spinal stenosis or narrowing, spinal tumours or pain referred from pain sensitive structures in the spine. The vast majority of these pains will resolve with time and simple measures.
Neurosurgeons are highly trained to operate on the brain and spinal cord and are asked to see patients with back and limb pain. The majority of such patients will not require spinal surgery. Spinal surgery is mainly indicated for patients who have leg or arm pain which is failing to improve with conservative treatment and who have clear evidence of nerve compression on their CT or MRI scan. Your neurosurgeon will be able to assess your situation and make the best recommendation for you.