What Are The Symptoms Of Back And Neck Pain
Symptoms associated with back pain may include:
Dull, burning, or sharp pain in your back. The pain can be confined to a single spot or cover a large area
Leg numbness or tingling above or below your knee
Stiffness or achiness that occurs anywhere along your spine
Sharp, shooting pain that radiates from your low back to your buttocks, down the back of your thigh, and into your calf and toes
Consistent ache in the middle or lower part of your back, especially after standing or sitting for an extended period
Loss of bladder and bowel control, with weakness in both legs, are symptoms of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms associated with neck pain can be:
Arm numbness or tingling
Sharp shooting pains or a dull aches in your neck
Pain that occurs suddenly in your back or neck, due to an injury, is considered to be acute pain. Acute pain comes on quickly and may leave sooner than chronic back or neck pain. This type of pain should not last more than 6 weeks.
Pain that may come on quickly or slowly and lingers for weeks, 3 months or greater, is considered to be chronic pain. Chronic pain is less common than acute pain.
Easy Tips To Relieve Stress
Stress affects the body in a variety of ways,from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often overlookedside effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts ofstress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.
When we get stressed out, the body naturally releases certainhormones. Adrenaline is associated with the ancient fight or flight phenomenonthat heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes themuscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the sourceof the stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone it interferes with avariety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to loss of muscle massand increases in fat accumulation.
“Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.”
Kavita Trivedi, D.O.
Data suggest that adults know stress affects their spines. Online survey participants ranked the No. 1 perceived cause of their neck and back pain as follows:
- Stress: 29 percent
- Spinal disc herniation: 21 percent
- Sitting at a desk at work: 20 percent
Meet Back And Neck Pain Expert Dr Michele Sterling
Michele Sterling, IASP Councilor and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Australian Pain Society, graciously offered her time and expertise on the topic of back and neck pain to help curate the content on this page.
Whats a common misunderstanding about back and neck pain?
Trying to cover such a broad topic and funnel it down into a more concise thing is difficult. In fact, neck pain is often bundled in with musculoskeletal pain. So there is a lot of overlap, which sometimes makes it difficult for healthcare providers or patients to find specific information.
Take neck pain, for instance. Youve got traumatic neck pain, which is generally termed whiplash, and could be the result of a sporting injury or car accident or falling on your head. And you also have non-traumatic neck pain, or postural neck pain, which comes from things like having slept poorly or sitting at your computer too long. A lot of people will argue that whiplash is no different from ordinary neck pain. But I disagree because a lot of whiplash patients develop much more pronounced distress and psychological distress, like post traumatic stress . Its something we’ve yet to prove, but I think there’s something about that injury and its location in the neck with so many connections to the brain and the middle ear that seem to show a lot more central sensitization or higher pain. So lumping them all together can be misleading.
Does neck pain go away in many cases?
Also Check: Upper Back Pain From Sitting At Desk
How Are Back And Neck Pain Managed
Acute back pain usually gets better without special treatment. Using acetaminophen or ibuprofen will decrease pain and help you rest. Surgery and special exercises are generally not used with acute pain.
For severe, disabling, or chronic back and neck pain, rehabilitation programs can be designed to meet your needs. The type of program will depend on the type and severity of your pain, injury, or disease. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of rehabilitation programs.
The goal of back and neck rehabilitation is to help you manage disabling pain, return to your highest level of functioning and independence possible, while improving your overall quality of life. The focus of rehabilitation is on relieving pain and improving mobility .
To help reach these goals, back and neck rehabilitation programs may include the following:
Exercise programs to improve range of motion, increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and mobility, and increase endurance
Help with obtaining assistive devices that promote independence
Patient and family education and counseling
Pain management techniques
Gait and movement retraining
Ergonomic assessments and work-related injury prevention programs
An Effective New Treatment For Chronic Back Pain Targets The Nervous System
- University of New South Wales
- A treatment that trains both the brain and the body has shown important effects on pain and disability, a new study has found.
People challenged with chronic back pain have been given hope with a new treatment that focuses on retraining how the back and the brain communicate, a randomised controlled trial run by researchers at UNSW Sydney and Neuroscience Research Australia and several other Australian and European universities has shown.
The study, funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council , was described today in a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, carried out at NeuRA, divided 276 participants into two groups: one undertook a 12-week course of sensorimotor retraining and the other received a 12-week course of sham treatments designed to control for placebo effects, which are common in low back pain trials.
Professor James McAuley from UNSW’s School of Health Sciences, and NeuRA said sensorimotor retraining alters how people think about their body in pain, how they process sensory information from their back and how they move their back during activities.
“This is the first new treatment of its kind for back pain — which has been the number one cause of the Global Disability Burden for the last 30 years — that has been tested against placebo.”
How it works
Training the body and the brain
Also Check: Mattress For Side Sleepers With Back Pain
Iasp Is Making An Impact On Back And Neck Pain
The International Association for the Study of Pain is making an impact on the study of back and neck pain in several meaningful ways.
IASP named 2021 as the Global Year About Back Pain and dedicated their advocacy efforts to helping clinicians, scientists, those living with pain, and the public understand the nature of back pain and the utility of available treatment modalities.
Several Special Interest Groups advance and promote the understanding of back and neck pain. Check out the Musculoskeletal Pain SIG and the Pain, Mind, and Movement SIG.
You, too, can make an impact on neck and back pain. Join IASP today!
What Is Neck Pain
Neck pain is pain in or around the spine beneath your head, known as the cervical spine. Neck pain is a common symptom of many different injuries and medical conditions.
You might have axial neck pain or radicular neck pain . It can be acute or chronic .
Neck pain can interfere with daily activities and reduce your quality of life if left untreated.
Read Also: Pancreatic Cancer Pain Worse At Night
Neck And Back Muscle Tension
Leanne Antoine, chartered physiotherapist and spokesperson for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy , advises that muscle tension in your neck and back can also indirectly result in eye pain.
This happens when unconscious tensing of the muscles in the neck, upper back, and shoulders leads to tension in the back of the skull – the occipital area. This can lead to headaches that affect the area around the eye.
Muscle tension in the back and neck could arise for a variety of reasons, and physiotherapists can help to establish the primary cause of your pain and offer a tailored physiotherapy service to relieve the tension.
How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
Recommended Reading: Early Pregnancy Left Side Pain
How Is Neck Pain Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose neck pain with a physical exam and medical history. Your doctor will feel and move your neck to locate pain and find motion problems. Doctors also check your muscle strength and reflexes. Your doctor will ask about previous neck injuries that might have caused whiplash or a herniated disc. Your doctor may ask about work or other activities that could affect your neck.
To diagnose the cause of the pain, your doctor may use imaging tests such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography . These tests can show damage and other issues in the bones and surrounding tissues in your neck.
Other tests that your doctor may order include: electromyography, nerve conduction studies, myelogram and/or nerve root block. These tests look more closely at the discs in the spine, the spine itself, check the function of nerves and muscle response and source of the pain.
Etiology Of Neck And Back Pain
Most neck and back pain is caused by disorders of spinal structures. Muscle pain is a common symptom and is typically caused by irritation of the deeper muscles by the dorsal rami of the spinal nerve and in the more superficial muscles from a local reaction to the spine injury. Strains are very rare in the cervical and lumbar spine. Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is a common, incompletely understood nonarticular, noninflammatory disorder characterized by generalized aching widespread tenderness of muscles, areas around… read more can coexist with neck and back pain but is not more likely to cause isolated pain in the neck or back. Occasionally, pain is referred from extraspinal disorders Serious uncommon causes . Some uncommon causesspinal and extraspinalare serious.
Most spinal disorders result from
Most pain caused by mechanical spine disorders is caused by
Nerve root pain
of the joints
The following are the most common causes of neck and low back pain.
All of these disorders also can be present without causing pain.
Serious causes may require timely treatment to prevent disability or death.
Serious extraspinal disorders include the following:
Serious spinal disorders include the following:
Metastatic vertebral tumors
Also Check: Tooth Pain Antibiotics Not Working
Corpectomy And Strut Graft
Perhaps a more popular procedure for removing the pressure on the spinal cordcausing spinal stenosis and cervical myelopathy is to remove the front of thespinal canal. This means that the large part of several of the vertebrae mustbe removed – the vertebral bodies and the discs between. This procedure is called a corpectomy. “Corpus” means body and “ectomy” means remove. Oncethe vertebral bodies have been removed, the space must be filled with something.Again, just as in the anterior cervical fusion, this space is usually filledwith a bone graft. Some type of internal fixation is usually required to holdthe vertebrae and the bone graft in place. You will probably also need to beplaced in a halo jacket to hold your head perfectly still while the healingoccurs and the vertebrae fuse. This is a very uncommon procedure.
What Are The Possible Causes Of Neck Pain
Many different medical issues and injuries can cause neck pain. Conditions that may cause neck pain include:
- Aging: Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis can lead to neck pain as you age. Over time, stress and motion can lead to spinal disc degeneration, causing a herniated disc or pinched nerve.
- Injury: Trauma from sudden forced movement of the neck or head and rebound in the opposite direction can cause pain and soreness. The muscles, ligaments, discs, vertebral joints and nerve roots in the spine cord in the neck can be affected in trauma injuries.
- Mental stress: Tightening your neck muscles due to tension commonly causes neck pain and stiffness.
- Physical strain: Overusing your neck muscles during repetitive actions or strenuous activities can lead to stiffness and pain.
- Conditions that affect spinal balance: Poor posture , being overweight, weak abdominal muscles can all affect spine posture and contribute to neck pain.
- Growths: In rare cases, masses including tumors, cysts and bone spurs can cause neck pain.
- Other health conditions:Meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer.
Read Also: Medicare Guidelines For Pain Management Injections 2021
Neck And Shoulder Pain Causes
Damage to the upper back area and soft tissue can trigger neck and shoulder pain. Upper back pain can be caused by sudden bursts of movement. Depending on its source, the alignment may worsen when standing, sitting, bending, or walking. Other causes of upper back pain include.
- Using new muscle groups spontaneously.
- Exercising without stretching.
- Lack of movement when sitting in the same position.
Poor posture is also a common reason for upper back distress and is the main motive for neck and shoulder pain. Both neck and shoulder pain causes are linked to the same trigger.
Quick Relief And Prevention
Chronic upper back and neck pain can become a very serious problem. However, some general soreness in your back and neck area is quite common. There are a few measures you can take for quick relief when this discomfort arises, and some things you can do to try to prevent it altogether.
Use a cold pack and anti-inflammatory pain relief for the first three days after the pain starts. After that, alternate applying heat and cold to your injury. Upper back and neck pain usually erupt suddenly, but healing can take a long time. If youre still in pain and your movement is limited after a month, its time to see your doctor.
Also Check: Diazepam Dosage For Nerve Pain
How Is The Neck Structured
Your neck and back are made up of small bones called vertebrae. These are stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column.
The spinal column supports your head and protects the spinal cord. This is the main structure which links the network of nerves throughout your body. Messages travel along this network sending sensations, such as pain, to your brain.
The top seven bones in the spinal column form your neck, and these are called the cervical vertebrae. The bones are linked together by facet joints. These are small joints between your vertebrae that, together with your neck muscles, allow you to move your head in any direction.
Between the vertebrae are discs of cartilage. The discs act as shock absorbers and give the spine its flexibility. A slipped disc occurs when one of these discs slips slightly out of its natural position in the spine.
Sleeping And Lying Down
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.
- If you’ve always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.
- Use a back support at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
- Use a firm pillow that supports the curve of your neck.
- Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
- When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
Recommended Reading: Otc Pain Medicine For Dogs
When Should I Call My Health Care Provider
See your health care provider if you have:
Loss of bladder or bowel control, with weakness in both legs. These symptoms require immediate attention
Severe back or neck pain that does not decrease with medication and rest
Pain after an injury or a fall
Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your legs or arms
Back and neck problems range from minor aches to severe, disabling pain
Often, the reasons for your pain cannot be identified.
See a health care provider if you have numbness or tingling, severe pain that does not improve with medication and rest, difficulty urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, unintentional weight loss, or pain after a fall.
Often, back and neck pain will improve over time. Consult with your health care provider if your pain is not decreasing.
Use prevention strategies to keep yourself healthy and injury-free.
For severe, disabling, or chronic back pain, consider an individualized rehabilitation program.