Back pain is a debilitating condition that affects many people and prevents them from enjoying their lives to the fullest. If you have back pain and need help managing your condition, triple board-certified physiatrist Stanley Mathew, MD, of American Rehabilitation Medicine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Dubuque, Iowa, can help. Dr. Mathew is an exceptional pain medicine specialist who provides a range of therapies aimed at reducing your pain, improving mobility, and giving you a better quality of life. Call American Rehabilitation Medicine today to schedule an appointment or use the online booking form.

What is back pain?

Back pain is a very common health complaint, and most people experience back pain at least once throughout their life.

It can often be challenging to find the cause of back pain, but the symptoms that accompany your pain can provide some clues. You might, for example, feel tingling or burning sensations in your arms or legs, pins and needles or numbness, or feel weak and lose mobility.

Chronic back pain is a long-term condition. If you’ve been in pain for more than three months, that’s considered to be chronic pain.

You might find the pain decreases at times, but if it keeps coming back, you should see Dr. Mathew at American Rehabilitation Medicine for an assessment.

During your assessment, Dr. Mathew carries out a comprehensive physical exam and goes through your medical history and current symptoms. He might also use diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out a preliminary diagnosis. Tests could include:

  • Electromyogram (EMG)
  • Ultrasound
  • Bone scans
  • MRI scans
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays

These tests can show what’s going on inside your bones, joints, and soft tissues, helping determine the cause of the problem and the extent of any damage.

What conditions cause back pain?

Some of the conditions Dr. Mathew treats most often include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Spinal cord injuries

There are numerous conditions that can cause back pain, from strained muscles and tendons to fractured vertebrae. Back pain is also a common work-related injury.

How is back pain treated?

The primary treatment for back pain is physical therapy. Dr. Mathew finds using physical therapies produces excellent results in most of his patients when they have back pain. Types of physical therapy for back pain include:

  • Stretching and flexibility exercises
  • Core strengthening
  • Fixing your posture
  • Pain tolerance testing
  • Yoga
  • Heat treatments
  • Ice or cold therapies
  • Massage therapy

You can also try eating a diet that reduces or cuts out food that could cause tissue inflammation. Further treatment options at American Rehabilitation Medicine that could help chronic back pain, particularly when it’s not improving using other methods, include:

  • Pain-killing medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Facet joint injections
  • Medial branch nerve block
  • Selective nerve root block
  • Sacroiliac joint injection
  • Intrathecal baclofen pump

Chiropractic and other alternative therapies can also be beneficial. Dr. Mathew creates a personalized treatment plan for you based on your diagnosis, which includes the most effective combination of therapies for reducing and where possible, relieving back pain.

Cedar Rapids

UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Hospital
1026 A Ave NE
5th Floor
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
(319) 369-7331


UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital
350 N Grandview Ave
Third Floor
Dubuque, IA 52001
(563) 557-2894


UnityPoint Health Jones Regional
1795 HWY. 64 E.
Anamosa, IA 52205
(319) 462-6131