The back and spine are designed to provide a great deal of strength, protecting the highly sensitive spinal cord and nerve roots, yet flexible, providing for mobility in all directions.
However, there are many different parts of the spine that can produce back pain, such as irritation to the large nerve roots that run down the legs and arms, irritation to small nerves inside the spine, strains to the large back muscles as well as any injury to the disc, bones, joints or ligaments in the spine.
Acute pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic pain is typically described as lasting for more than three months.
Pain pattern can be varied:
- The pain may be constant, intermittent, or only occur with certain positions or activities.
- The pain may remain in one spot or refer or radiate to other areas.
- It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation.
- The problem may be in the neck or low back but may radiate into the leg or foot (sciatica), arm or hand.
Other than pain, associated symptoms may include weakness, numbness or tingling.
Fortunately, most forms of back pain get better on their own: approximately 50 percent of patients will experience back pain relief within two weeks and 90 percent within three months.
If the pain lasts for more than a few days, is getting worse, does not respond to back pain remedies such as a short period of rest, using ice or heat, lower back pain exercises and over-the-counter pain relievers, then it is usually advisable to see a back doctor.
In the event that the pain persists after the 2-3 month period and/or becomes worse, a non-surgical approach is usually recommend. This would include therapeutic and diagnostic injections. Many of the injection procedures recommended are Epidural Steroid Injections, Medical Branch Block, Radio Frequency Ablations, Facet Joint Injections, Nerve Blocks, to name the most common. These are important not only to relieve pain but to accurately diagnosis the pain generators, or where the pain is coming from. Surgery should always be the last option and most patients are recommended interventional pain procedures prior to considering surgery.
A bulging disc is quite common, and usually remains undetected until the disc bulge comes in contact with adjacent nerves leading to pain and other symptoms.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is not truly a disease, but more of a chain of events that naturally occur as we age. There is no avoiding degenerative disc disease, but you may slow its progress.
As the outer shell of your disc begins to toughen or dry up, a painful crack or tear could happen. Learn what a disc tear is, and how you can recover from it.
Failed Back & Neck Surgery
There are many reasons why back or neck surgery may provide lackluster results. Bad diagnosis, unskilled surgeon, or improper healing; which is it?
Facet Joint Syndrome
Facet Joint Syndrome refers to the degeneration of the arthritic changes that occur in your facet joints. Age and daily wear and tear are the most common culprits.
Foraminal Stenosis describes the narrowing of the foramen. As the foramen narrows, exiting nerves can become compressed causing pain and other symptoms.
Pain presents itself in many different ways, at different times and in many cases is triggered by specific activities. We will be happy to answer your questions in conjunction with a personal phone call follow up with one of our doctors.
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