The #1 MISTAKE Back Pain Sufferers Make

The #1 MISTAKE Back Pain Sufferers Make 1024 535 Best Practice Health TV

By Dan Lieberman, MD

In medicine the right treatment depends on understanding exactly what is wrong. The challenging thing about the lower back is that there are so many different problems, and even more treatments.

In addition, the stakes are high. It is NOT just about relieving your pain; the wrong treatment is risky, sucks up time, and wastes money. In this blog post I am going to share with you the #1 MISTAKE most people in choosing between physical therapy, x-ray, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), epidural injection, radiofrequency ablation, and even microdiscectomy surgery for low back problems. Why? Because you deserve better than to be run through a mill of unnecessary treatments.

Before you learn the #1 MISTAKE most people make, you need to understand the difference between a herniated disc and an arthritic facet joint. Other than being both fruit, apples and oranges are different things. Similarly, herniated disc and facet joints are both in your low back, but they cause different problems that have different treatments.

Herniated Disc

A herniation results from a tear in the outer part of a disc (light blue) causing inflammation in a nerve root (red). When the signal from the irritated nerve root reaches your brain it “feels” like an electrical pain shooting into the part of the leg where the irritated nerve root goes. Online and in conversation people call radiating pain that shoots into the leg sciatica. Most of the time sciatica is caused by a

Facet Joint

You can bend backwards because of the facet joints. There are 5 on each side in the low back alone. Just like joints in other parts of the body, facet joints can develop arthritis. And arthritis joints hurt. The pain from a facet joint is off to one side of the back, feels like it is in your hip, radiates to your butt, and burns in the outer thigh.

It is a good thing that you can tell a herniated disc that causes sciatica apart from a facet joint that causes low back pain, because they have different treatment options. A herniated disc has 3 options for you to consider for treatment. To help you recognize which option is best for you I would like to break the three options down into a matrix. You can learn more about my herniated disc matrix and how to use it to pick the right treatment for your sciatica here: 3 Things you must know if you have a herniated disc in the low back causing sciatica – Best Practice Health TV.

Low back pain due to an arthritic facet joint is usually treated with RFA (radiofrequency ablation). You can find out if RFA is right for you here: When should you have Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)? – Best Practice Health TV

So, what is the #1 MISTAKE people with low back problems make? You have waited so patiently. I cannot hold back any longer.

Drum roll please.


It happens every day. Think about it…

If you go to any pain management doctor the first thing, they do is offer you an epidural injection. Three of them. But epidural injection (orange) is not a treatment for facet mediated low back pain (green). Half of all people with back problems have facet pain and would never need an epidural. So, half of all people who see a pain management doctor are having unnecessary procedures.

Again, having the wrong treatment for your problem does no good, wastes your money, sucks up time and leaves you in pain.

And now you know. So, this will not happen… to you.