Spine pain—back and neck issues—tend to be more concerning than other forms of pain. This makes sense, on account of the spine’s role in the central nervous system, but it isn’t quite as warranted as you might think. There are many instances wherein the problem is not as serious (yet) as it seems.
Now, that being said, pain is never normal. It is an indication of an existing problem. Further, it obviously hurts – and this can disrupt your life!
If you are having back or neck pain, it is important to act upon it. At the same time, there likely isn’t a need to panic. Instead, come see us here at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group and have our orthopedic specialist evaluate the situation and create a treatment plan.
Let’s look at these respective issues, when it is time to be concerned, and what can be done about them.
Back Pain Basics
Back pain has a range that extends from mild, annoying aching on the low end all the way up to severe, disabling pain at the extreme end. Depending on your specific circumstance, you may have restricted mobility, difficulty sleeping, and an inability to perform even normal activities.
The good news is that most instances of back pain will heal – even if it doesn’t seem like it.
The reason for this is the simple fact that a good number of acute back pain episodes can be attributed due to muscle strain. Muscle strains often heal in expedient fashion because muscles generally have a strong blood supply which brings the necessary proteins and nutrients for natural healing processes to be performed.
It is important to understand that we are currently talking about most cases of back pain and difficulty. There are, of course, other instances wherein the problem is something other than muscular strain.
An example of non-strain back pain is when an injury has been caused by physical trauma. This happens during car accidents, football games, and other such events wherein there is tremendous amount of force.
If you have experienced such an incident and are experiencing back pain, it is important to come in and see us as soon as possible. In the event numbness is present, you should seek immediate medical care.
The symptoms of back pain can vary, but include stiffness, achiness, sharp pain, dull pain, and tingling or numbness down into the legs.
Understanding Neck Pain
Neck pain typically develops on account of an issue in the cervical vertebrae found in your neck. Unlike with back pain, this isn’t as often attributable to muscle strain (although, there are many instances wherein this is the case).
As is the case with back pain, physical trauma can be responsible. Whereas the spine is fairly well protected in the middle of the back, your neck is more open, unprotected, and subject to injury.
Depending on various factors—and especially the nature of the injury itself—neck pain can be either acute (pain occurring suddenly) or chronic (lingering pain with a more gradual onset). Either type of injury can result in symptoms like headaches, sharp shooting pains or dull aching in the neck, shoulder pain, and even numbness or tingling down into the arms.
Diagnosing Back and Neck Pain
If you have pain in either your back or neck, you should contact our office and request an appointment with our orthopedic specialist.
When you do, we will start by determining what is wrong. To arrive at an accurate diagnosis, we start with a review of your medical history and then listen as you describe the symptoms and when you first became aware of them.
You can also expect to have any of several different tests or diagnostic procedures. In all likelihood, we will use X-ray or MRI equipment to get a complete view of what is happening on the inside. MRIs, in particular, can be extremely beneficial in viewing the soft tissues and bones in an affected area.
Orthopedic Treatment Options for Back and Neck Pain
Naturally, the treatment protocol we create and initiate will depend on an array of factors – the biggest one being the actual injury itself. We will also consider your medical history and lifestyle goals in determining the best possible course of action.
In some cases, orthopedic surgery is recommended – but our goal is always to exhaust conservative treatment options before reaching that point.
Nonsurgical, orthopedic care for back and neck pain can include:
- Hot or cold therapy
- Physical therapy - specific exercises are used to strengthen muscles and ease pain. Stretching and strengthening exercises may both be used in this treatment.
- Aerobic exercises (these may be incorporated later in the treatment process)
- Certain anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants
- Braces for extra support
- Injections for pain relief in the area
When it comes to acute back pain, special exercises are not generally needed. More likely, you will benefit from medication, rest, and hot and/or cold therapy.
For chronic, severe, or disabling back or neck pain, we may need to prescribe a rehabilitation program to meet your needs and lifestyle choices. This can help you return to your highest level of functioning possible, while managing the pain and improving mobility.
Expert Orthopedic Care at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group
Don’t let back or neck pain keep you from your normal—and favorite! —activities. Instead, give our team the opportunity to determine what is wrong and then develop a treatment plan to address it for you.
For more information about this subject, or any of the orthopedic services we provide, simply give our Carmichael office a call today at (916) 961-3434 or connect with us online right now.