Back Pain

As a Physiatrist Dr. Carlos Esparza MD focuses on treating your symptoms using non- or minimally invasive techniques including exercises to correct body alignment, physical or occupational rehabilitation, and injections to reduce pain and inflammation.

About Back PAIN

Acute vs. chronic back pain

Acute lower back pain comes on suddenly, often following an accident or traumatic injury, and can be quite severe. Acute pain in your lumbar spine can also result from a bulging or herniated disc, a muscle tear, strain or sprain. If areas of your back are already weakened, due to spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis or other conditions, something as common as a sneeze or reaching for a can of soup in your cupboard can bring on back pain!

Chronic lower back pain is pain that continues for 3 months or longer and might progress, radiate or move. Some of the causes of chronic back pain could be:

  • the wear and tear of daily life
  • not getting enough exercise
  • sitting for long periods
  • repetitive motions
  • congenital conditions

Back Pain: Lower Back

Pain in the lower back (Lumbar Spine)
Your lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebrae in the lower back (L1-5) and the majority of Americans will experience pain in the low back area at some point in their lives. Studies show it is the most common of all disabilities beside a headache, and most of the time we can’t determine the exact cause of the discomfort. Most of the time, lumbar spine pain will resolve on its own. Sometimes low back pain is accompanied by pain that radiates down the buttock and leg. This is known as sciatica and is also quite common.

Helping YOU help yourself with back pain

It might be your instinct to rest when you hurt your back, but studies show that it’s best not to take to your bed for too long. Movement helps keep blood flowing and will speed healing. Take it slow, but try to get up and moving. If you aren’t sure, contact Dr. Esparza MD for an examination.

How does a Physiatrist (Doctor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) help back pain?

Commonly used modalities include:

• Physical therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Exercises and stretching
• Inflammation and pain management
• Steroidal and other injections (such as Platelet Rich Plasma)

Upper and lower back pain treatments

Back exercises

Pain Management Back exercises including stretching and strengthening to increase flexibility and improve posture are often first-line treatments for back pain. Dr. Esparza MD will prescribe the appropriate rehabilitation exercises and if you can tolerate it, he might also recommend cardiovascular conditioning (“cardio training” such as exercising on an elliptical machine or stationary bike,) to improve your overall health and fitness. Getting more oxygen-rich blood to your back is vital for healing, so do what you can within the limits of your condition.

Physical Therapy

Your exercise regime might be supervised by one of our physical therapists who often begins with heat or cold treatments, ultrasound or electrical stimulation, deep-tissue or trigger-point massage. The therapist will also show you ways you can improve your posture and biomechanics and give you stretches and possibly gentle exercises you can do on your own.

Pain Management

Pain Management is sometimes managed with muscle relaxants and over the counter pain relievers such as NSAIDS (Advil, Aleve.) In other cases, prescription medication is recommended.

Epidural Steroid Interlaminar Injections (ESI)

Epidural Steroid Interlaminar Injections (ESI) are used to calm inflammation and reduce pain so that you can take part in a rehabilitation program to improve your back health.

Lumbar or Thoracic Selective Nerve Root block

Lumbar or Thoracic Selective Nerve Root block is prescribed when Dr. Esparza MD suspects that your pain is caused by an irritated nerve root in your upper or lower back. The irritation might be caused by compression or impingement (“pinching”) of the nerve from age related degeneration such as osteoarthritis (called “wear and tear arthritis”) or other conditions.

Lumbar or Thoracic Facet Joint injections

Lumbar or Thoracic Facet Joint injections can alleviate pain caused by damage to the facet joints which are small joints between the vertebrae on the back of the spine. Facet joint injections can accompany physical therapy, making it possible for you to strengthen the muscles around the weakened joints.

Medial Branch Nerve Blocks

Medial Branch Nerve Blocks are used to determine whether your pain is caused by the facet joints of the spine. If the facet joints are inflamed, the medial branch nerves will relay pain signals to the brain. During this procedure, the doctor will use contrast dye and X-ray guidance to see if the facet joints are causing your back pain. From here, Dr. Esparza MD can make the best decision about your treatment.

Dr. Esparza MD is a physician I am honored to have known both personally and professionally in excess of 20 years. He is a superior diagnostician who truly cares about his patients and their improvement. He is one of the most astute observers of patients I have seen in over 35 years of reviewing medical doctors. On several occasions, he perceived things about me that I could not begin to explain. Simply amazing! He believes in injections to calm irritations that are the root of many painful conditions. He is a doctor of choice for many because he is not a surgeon. With a specialty in Physical Medicine, he can perform neurological testing to determine the depth and complexity of many conditions. Dr. Esparza MD has a keen mind and a good heart.

PRP Injections (Platelet Rich Plasma)

PRP Injections (Platelet Rich Plasma) is a process where a very small amount of your blood is drawn right before your procedure. It is spun in a centrifuge to concentrates the platelets in your blood. The product that results is rich in growth factors that have been shown to enhance the body’s natural healing process. PRP is safe and has been used to treat a variety of conditions for many years, (even cosmetic and procedures involving the eye!) Some advantages of PRP for neck and back conditions include faster healing, tissue repair, and even bone regeneration. By using your own blood, you reduce the chance of blood-born infection and bring out your own natural healing abilities to treat your condition. Ask Dr. Esparza MD if this “cutting edge” technology is right for you.

Trigger Point Injections

Trigger Point Injections involve injecting medication directly into a knot of muscles to reduce pain and inflammation. Trigger point injections are also used to treat headaches and painful conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Get in Touch

If you have pain, there is hope for relief. Contact Dr. Carlos Esparza’s MD Office today for an appointment. Most major Insurances and Workers’ Compensation of New Mexico accepted call us at 505-242-1711 and speak with our scheduler for more information



3846 Masthead St. NE Albuquerque, NM 87109