What is neck and back pain?
The spine is one of the most complex musculoskeletal systems in the body. Its most critical responsibility is housing and protecting the spinal cord, which is responsible for relaying signals of the nervous system from the rest of the body to the brain. However, the spine is also responsible for providing structural support and balance to the body and enabling flexible movement. Back pain affects up to 80% of Americans at one point or another in their lifetime and it can be caused by muscle strains, bone and disc issues, arthritis, nerve damage or fractures. Some common examples of spine conditions are spinal stenosis, cervical dystonia, herniated or bulging discs, sciatica, and degenerative disc disease.
What causes neck and back pain?
Due to the structural complexity of the spine, neck and back pain can be caused by a number of different conditions. Neck and back pain can be caused by strains or tears to the muscles that support the spine; herniated, bulging or ruptured discs; nerve damage or impingement caused by structural issues in the spine; and fractures of the spinal vertebrae. These issues can arise because of genetics, aging, or traumatic injury and the pain can be acute or chronic. It can resolve on its own or it can require medical intervention to resolve.
What are the symptoms of neck and back pain?
The symptoms of neck and back pain can vary widely from case to case. Some people experience pain isolated to the site of damage/injury, while others experience that localized pain coupled with pain, numbness, and tingling radiating out to the extremities. The pain can be dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing and can abate after a short period of time or never cease. The pain can also lead to stiffness and limited flexibility in the spine and lower body. In severe cases, there can be weakness in the extremities, as the nerves being impinged or damaged can lead to muscle weakness if left untreated.
How do you prevent neck and back pain?
It is entirely possible to avoid neck and back pain by taking some preventive steps before spine pain arises. First, adopting an exercise regimen that includes core strengthening can help stabilize and support the spine, preventing structural issues from developing and causing pain. Second, focusing on your posture and ensuring you keep your back straight, especially when sitting for extended periods of time, can help reduce pressure points in the vertebral column. It is also critically important to maintain good form or posture when lifting heavy objects, focusing on using your legs—not your back—for most of the work. Finally, maintaining a healthy weight will help eliminate unnecessary strain and pressure from weakening your spine and making the structures of your spine susceptible to damage.
How is the source of your neck and back pain diagnosed?
If you suspect your neck and back pain requires clinical intervention, the first step towards a diagnosis and treatment plan is scheduling an appointment with a physician whose practice is focused on treating disorders of the spine. At the time of your appointment, they will complete a full review of your individual and family medical history; conduct a thorough physical examination, including palpation and movement, strength, and reflex tests; and order and review any necessary diagnostic tests, such as X-Ray, MRI or CT scans. The results of these examinations and diagnostic tests will help your physician pinpoint the cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan aimed at eradicating it.
Why Choose Pain Consultants?
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of neck and back pain, Pain Consultants of West Florida can help alleviate your pain and get your life back on track. We offer a wide variety of treatment options for neck and back pain, including:
- Physical therapy – a combination of stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises aimed at strengthening the core to stabilize the spine, which can help relieve pain and pressure on the spinal column and allow natural healing to occur.
- Massage therapy – a very popular complementary therapy that aims to use soft tissue manipulation to reduce pain and inflammation in the muscles that support the spine.
- TENS units – stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and uses low-dose electrical currents, delivered through pads (electrodes) placed directly on the skin above the site of injury, to stimulate nerves and eliminate the sensation of pain.
- Durable Medical Equipment Bracing
- Topical Treatments
- Non Opioids
- Trigger point injections – an injection of anesthetic medication into the “trigger points” or knots of spinal muscles that cause pain and discomfort.
- Epidural injections – a fluoroscopic injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space—the area between the dura, a thin membrane surrounding the nerves, and the spinal canal. Provides substantial pain relief without surgery.
- Facet injections – an injection of local anesthetics and corticosteroids into the facet joint of the spine, which can provide immediate pain relief through the administration of anesthetic and long-term pain relief from the corticosteroids.
- Diagnostic Blocks
- Radiofrequency ablations – a minimally-invasive procedure that aims to eradicate pain by using heat to damage the nerves that relay pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
- Neurosurgeon Consult
- Spinal Cord Stimulation