Many neck and back conditions are muscular and can be helped with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. In contrast, others, such as osteoarthritis, require a more in-depth diagnosis and treatment plan.
There are also cases where neck and back pain may be symptomatic of a more serious problem, especially if the pain is accompanied by numbness and tingling or shooting pain in your arms.
Diagnosing the cause of back and neck pain can be difficult as there are many different causes including:
- Muscle strains, this is a common issue exacerbated by many hours spent in front of the computer.
- Overuse injuries, such as repetitive or heavy lifting
- Osteoarthritis, as the joints in your neck and back, wear down, the cartilage that protects your bones thins, which affects joint motion and causes pain and inflammation.
- Nerve compression, bone spurs, or herniated disks can press on the nerves.
- Injuries or trauma, such as car accidents, sporting injuries, and falls can damage the soft tissues, or even fracture delicate bones in your spine.
- Infections and diseases
- Abnormal bone growths
- Obesity, which puts pressure on your spine
- Poor muscle tone
- Sprains or strains
- Abdominal problems
There are a number of symptoms to watch for including:
- Burning, sharp or ongoing dull pain that may affect a whole area or confined to a single small area
- Leg numbness or tingling
- Stiffness and loss of range of motion along the spine
- Shooting pain that moves from the lower back to the buttocks, thigh, calves, and toes
- Consistent aching in the mid and lower part of the pack especially after long periods of sitting or standing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Symptoms of neck pain include:
- Numb or tingling arms
- Shoulder pain
- Shooting pain or a dull ache in your neck
You should make an appointment with your health care provider immediately if you experience loss of bladder or bowel control, especially is it is in combination with weakness in your legs. You should also seek help if you have severe back or neck pain that does not decrease even with rest and medication, if you have a fall or injure yourself or if you have weakness or tingling in your arms or legs.
Additionally, we would recommend seeking advice if you have ongoing back or neck pain, as a chronic condition can be managed and treated, and this can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
The doctor will conduct a physical exam and take your medical history and may need x-rays and an MRI of the affected area. They will then be able to diagnose what is causing the pain and draw up a treatment protocol.
If it is muscle-related, there are a number of non-surgical interventions that your doctor may suggest including hot or cold packs, specific exercises, anti-inflammatory medication, bracing, acupuncture, and physical therapy. If the pain is severe and chronic, a specialized rehabilitation program may be necessary to help restore optimal functioning and independence.
If you have ongoing back and neck pain or other associated symptoms, please make an appointment with us at Northwest Surgical Specialists. With many years of experience in treating back and neck conditions, you can trust us to accurately diagnose and treat your condition.