Back and neck pain are common problems, affecting 80 percent of people at some point. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to live with constant pain.
In most cases, back pain doesn’t require surgery, but left untreated, it will often get worse. Get ahead of the problem with help from our experts. We offer a wide range of therapies and treatments to relieve your pain and restore your quality of life.
Common causes of back and neck pain
In order to understand what’s causing your pain, it’s important that you and your doctor determine which of the two types of back pain you have:
Acute pain occurs suddenly and can be healed within days or weeks with the proper treatment. The source of your pain is usually your muscles, but may also involve joints or discs.
Chronic pain persists for more than three months. You may be feeling pain all the time, or it may get worse during certain activities. The source of this pain is often difficult to pinpoint.
No matter which type of back or neck pain you’re experiencing, it’s important to get the proper treatment right away. It takes more than bed rest and ice to successfully address your pain, and we’re here to help.
Back and neck pain can be caused by many factors, including:
Whether your pain is acute or chronic, we’re committed to developing a treatment plan that focuses on getting you back to doing what you love by using non-invasive treatments whenever possible.
Read more about some of the spine conditions we treat below. If you’re experiencing back pain that’s keeping you from enjoying your life, schedule an assessment with one of our physicians today and learn about your non-invasive treatment options.
As you age, the discs in your spine (the “springs” between each vertebra) degenerate, meaning they lose their flexibility and ability to cushion your spine.
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
A major injury that is followed by sudden and unexpected back pain
A small injury followed by sudden back pain
Back or neck pain that starts gradually and gets progressively worse
Many treatment options are available for degenerative disc disease including physical therapy, medication, and holistic therapies like acupuncture. In severe cases, spinal injections and surgery may need to be considered. Most cases, however, do not require these more aggressive types of treatment.
The discs between vertebrae are made of a gel-like center called the nucleus pulposis and a tougher outer wall called the annulus. When you have a herniated disc, the nucleus ruptures and pours out through a weak spot in the annulus.
Symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the location of the herniation. Symptoms of a herniated disc in the low back region include:
Pain that radiates from your lower back, down one or both legs, and sometimes in your feet
Pain that feels like an electric shock when you stand, walk or sit
Increased pain when you bend, lift, twist or sit
Numbness or tingling in your leg or foot
Leg muscle weakness
Knee or ankle reflex loss
In severe cases, you could experience tripping, falling, or even foot drop (your foot flops when you walk)
Symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck or mid-back region may include:
Pain in neck, mid back or shoulder blades
Pain that radiates down arm, hand or fingers
Mid-back pain that travels around rib cage
Numbness and tingling in the shoulder or arm
Weakness in the arm or hand
Clumsiness, dropping things
Again, there are many conservative treatment options for a herniated disc, and most patients don’t need surgery. Non-surgical options include physical therapy, holistic therapies, steroid injections and medications.
Your sciatic nerves run down the lengths of both your legs. When a herniated disc, muscle strain or bone spurs (abnormal bone growths) put pressure on one of them, you experience sciatica. This pain can be acute or chronic.
Symptoms of sciatica include:
Pain that starts in the lower back and buttocks, that may travel down the back of your thigh, past your knee and sometimes into your calf and foot
Pain that feels worse in your leg than in your back
Numbness or tingling in your leg or foot
Sciatica can often be managed by resting, using a heating pad, or doing gentle stretches. Medication, physical therapy, injections and surgery (in severe cases) are also among the treatment options when necessary.
Spinal fractures are most often caused by forceful impacts such as motor vehicle collisions, falls, or sports injuries, but also may occur with lesser traumas in patients with weakened bones due to osteoporosis. Injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains, to fractures and dislocations of the bony vertebrae, to spinal cord damage. At times spinal fractures can damage the support structures of the spine, including the joints, leading to instability.
Symptoms of a spinal fracture include:
Back or neck pain
Numbness or tingling
Bowel or bladder changes
Weakness in the arms, hands, legs and feet
Depending on the severity, you may only need braces or orthotics to stabilize your spine while you heal naturally. Severe spinal fractures require surgery. Treatment for spinal fractures also includes managing your pain, and may require medication management as well activity changes, as appropriate.
The system that keeps your vertebrae in place is a delicate one.
Spondylosis is a degenerative process affecting the vertebral disc and facet joints that gradually develops with age. Learn more about spondylosis.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when the bones connecting the upper and lower facets moves out of normal alignment with one vertebrae, slipping forward or backward relative to the next vertebrae. At times this can be associated with the vertebrae shifting as you bend forward and backward (called instability). If you’ve developed spondylosis, you have a greater chance of spondylolisthesis occurring as well.
Symptoms of spondylosis and spondylolisthesis aren’t always pronounced, and often these conditions are found by accident. Some of the symptoms you may experience include:
Lower back pain
Numbness, tingling in the legs or feet
Leg pain that is worse when you stand, walk or bend.
There are several treatment options available for spondylosis and spondylolisthesis, and surgery is often not necessary. Other options include: physical therapy, medication, spinal injections and holistic therapies. Braces may be used to assist in posture management, but should not be used as the sole form of treatment.