Raritan Medical Center: Understanding Lower Back and Neck Pain

Source: GMN Health
Lower back pain can range from a dull ache to a stabbing or shooting sensation, making it difficult to move or stand up. Acute back pain may come on suddenly, often after a sports injury, from heavy lifting, or simply turning the wrong way. Back pain can also be from muscle spasms, joint arthritis, disc pain, and/or a pinched nerve.
Sometimes back pain can be related to a disc in the spine that herniates or bulges. The spine’s vertebrae are cushioned by gel-like discs that are prone to stress, or wear and tear from aging or injuries. A weakened disc may rupture or bulge, putting pressure on the adjacent spinal nerve roots. This is known as a bulged, herniated or torn disc, and can cause intense pain. If a bulging or ruptured disc presses on the nerve roots that form sciatic nerve, one may experience shooting pain from the buttocks down into the legs. This is called sciatica.
Similarly, neck pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is frequently caused by a cervical herniated disc or pinching a nerve in the neck. This pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands. The symptoms may start suddenly or develop over time.
In most cases, patients can be treated non-surgically through physical therapy, pain management (medical or procedural), complementary medicine, and change of lifestyle. If simpler therapies and medications aren’t helping, your doctor may recommend injections that target irritated nerves to bring relief.
If your pain has left you inactive for a long time, physical rehabilitation can help you strengthen your muscles and get you back into the swing of things. Listen to your pain. It is possible to recapture your pain-free life with appropriate treatments.

If your back or neck pain is not relieved within 72 hours, consult a pain management specialist. If the pain is accompanied by loss of bowel or bladder control, leg weakness or numbness, or fever and chills, seek immediate emergency medical attention.

To help your pain management specialist diagnose the source of lower back or neck pain, be specific in describing the type of pain, when and how it started, factors that worsens or lessens the intensity of pain, related symptoms, any history of chronic conditions, and history of surgeries, if any. A skilled, hands-on evaluation by a pain management specialist and appropriate diagnostic testing can determine the best overall plan of care.

By Dr. Terrance T. Winn of the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center, dedicated to returning patients to normal activities quickly and safely with the help of a multi-disciplinary team. Dr.Winn’s office is located in the Old Bridge Medical Arts Building, 3 Hospital Plaza #313. For an appointment, call 855-5-MOTION.

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