Help Me Fix It: Dr. Besser Goes in Search of Back Pain Relief

Ways to relieve pain without surgery.

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 10, 2010, 8:18 PM

May 11, 2010— -- Carmilla Billick, 56, of Toledo, Ohio, a former nurse's aide, was lifting an elderly patient when she felt a pop in her lower back.

"It just felt like something tore apart," Billick said.

She saw a chiropractor and said she went through physical therapy for one year, but nothing eased her pain. So she decided to visit an orthopedic surgeon who she said recommended surgery.

After Billick's first back surgery, she thought she was on the road to recovery.

"I expected to be completely better and be able to work without any pain," she said.

But her back pain eventually began to creep back. In fact, Billick collapsed on a shopping trip to the mall because of the excruciating pain she felt in her back.

After the recurrence of pain, Billick consulted with Dr. Edward Benzel, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Benzel said he recommended core strengthening and flexibility exercises along with a healthy diet.

"She didn't listen to me and she went and had another operation," Benzel said.

Instead of following through with Benzel's recommendations, Billick said she met another surgeon who told her he could ease her back pain through another surgery.

"At that time, I was just in so much pain, I couldnt even stand or sit or anything. And he said, 'I can fix you through surgery,'" Billick said.

While back surgery may not always be necessary, Besser said that when you feel these symptoms you should talk to your doctor immediately: