5 Common Causes of Back and Neck Pain
Back and neck pain can happen to anyone. In fact, according to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, 60 to 80 percent of adults will experience back pain in their life that interferes with their daily activities. Since back and neck pain is common, it’s helpful to understand a few of the most common causes of back and neck pain and how to manage the symptoms.
Also known as a pinched nerve or slipped disc, disc herniation is one of the most common causes of back and neck pain. Between each one of your spinal bones, there is a rubbery spinal disc. There are two parts to the spinal disc; the nucleus, the soft center of the disc, and the annulus, which is the tougher exterior. When the nucleus pushes through a tear in the annulus, that’s a disc herniation.
Disc herniations are most common in the back, but they can also occur in the neck. They typically cause some level of pain or discomfort. Additional disc herniation symptoms can include arm or leg pain, numbness or tingling throughout the body, or muscle weakness. Most disc herniations are caused by age-related wear and tear, although overuse of the back or neck can also cause a disc to slip. Some factors that increase one’s risk of disc herniation include obesity and smoking.
You can manage most disc herniation symptoms within a few days or weeks with conservative treatments such as medications and avoiding overuse of the back or neck. However, if the pain persists are begins causing additional pain, your doctor may suggest physical therapy or surgery.
Strain or Sprain
A strain or sprain happens when muscle fibers stretch or tear. This causes the muscles and tissues surrounding the spine to become inflamed, causing discomfort. Most strains and sprains to the neck or back happen from overuse, such as moving heavy objects or making a sudden unnatural movement. In addition to pain, strains and sprain can also cause stiffness or muscle spans. Most strains or sprains-related discomfort last from one to two weeks. If the discomfort persists more than that or comes with abdominal pain, fever, or loss of control over your bladder or bowels, seek medical attention immediately.
Doctors tend to treat mild or moderate strains and sprains with an anti-inflammatory. If the strain or sprain is more severe, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Once the pain subsides, some precautions you can take from avoiding future sprains and strains include maintaining a healthy weight, developing proper lifting and moving techniques, building a strong core, and quit smoking.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis of the spine happens when the protective cartilage that cushions the bones in your spine breaks down. The deterioration of the cartilage can occur over time from everyday wear and tear, making it most common in seniors. Additional risk factors include obesity, previous joint injuries, or repeated stress on the spine.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis are usually managed through medications and therapy. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend medical procedures such as cortisone injections or the realignment of bones. Unfortunately, any damage to the joints is permeant.
Spinal infections can start in another part of the body and travel to the spine or begin in the spine. They usually cause pain along that spine that seems to worsen with movement. It can also cause stiffness, fever, chills, unexplained weight loss, or numbness in the arms or legs. Some spinal infections occur after surgery, yet other causes are poor nutrition, HIV, cancer, obesity, diabetes, or steroid use.
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for a spinal infection. Depending on the severity of the infection, a doctor could prescribe medication for a few days to a few weeks. Your doctor may also suggest wearing a brace if the infection has affected the stability of your spine.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that widespread pain because of how your brain and spinal cord process pain signals. Those with fibromyalgia often experience discomfort and fatigue that can last up to a few months. The pain typically goes beyond the neck and back and into the shoulders, arm, hips, or buttock. It’s most common in women, those with a family history of fibromyalgia, and other disorders such as arthritis or lupus.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors help patients manage symptoms through medications and therapy. Lifestyle changes such as stress management, exercises, and sleep can also improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain at any level of severity, the team at Mocek Spine Clinic may be able to help. We offer advanced spine care solutions through patient-centered care. Our purpose is to provide compassionate care designed to allow you to live your life in the least amount of pain possible. To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or give us a call at 501.224.4001.