Ride the Best Path to Back and Neck Pain Relief
If you're suffering from back or neck pain, there is a medically proven path to getting the right care in the fastest way possible. While you may think your only options are pain meds or surgery, there are many waypoints and types of care in between. Follow the care path outlined below to learn the best way to find long-term pain relief and then choose where you are in the journey to get help.
A: Osteoporosis due to aging is the most common, followed by:
- Disc herniation
- Muscle strains
A: Symptoms of text neck include:
- Upper back pain ranging from a chronic nagging ache to severe muscle spasms.
- Shoulder pain and tightness.
- If a cervical nerve becomes pinched, pain and possibly tingling and numbness radiating down the arm to the hand.
- Tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, legs or feet
- Weakness or loss of function in the arms or legs
- Loss of balance, clumsiness, or other coordination problems
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Tingling or numbness in the saddle area
Which is Better?
Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen. Most spine pain is caused or made worse by inflammation, so take an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. (Tip: Call your doctor to ask about the highest safe dose and take that for three days.)
Ice or Heat?
A: Neither. Use whichever feels better.
Rest or Activity?
A: Stay active as long as it doesn't make your pain worse; being sedentary can actually make the problem worse.
How much bone loss is normal?
During Your Initial Visit You Can Expect:
Physical exam: One of our skilled spine specialists will perform provocative tests (such as moving your body and putting pressure on certain spots) to help reproduce or rule out where the pain is coming from.
Imaging: For most patients, we use a combination of imaging including X-rays, that can identify structural issues, and CT and MRI scans, which highlight issues with nerves, tendons, and ligaments.
Diagnosis: Based on your exam, images, and symptoms, your back pain specialist and back doctor will begin the process of making a diagnosis. Sometimes we can pinpoint the issue and offer a diagnosis immediately. Other times we may need more time to see how your pain reacts to certain initial treatments.
Spine Specialist: During an initial visit for back or neck pain with your primary care provider or Neurosurgery One Spine Clinic, you most likely will be seen by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. These providers have extensive spine training and work as a team with our pain management physiatrists and spine surgeons. Learn more about what a physician assistant can do during your visit.
Initial Treatment: During your initial visit, your spine specialist will recommend the appropriate treatment based on your diagnosis and what treatments you have already tried. Initial treatment might include physical therapy and other types of conservative care or you may be scheduled for pain management, such as spinal injections. In some cases, you may be referred directly for spine surgery.
How quick can I be seen?
It’s not clear yet if marijuana relieves pain. While a few studies have shown it can help reduce neuropathic pain (a specific type of chronic pain caused by damaged nerves), it’s less clear whether it can help relieve acute pain. One thing we do know is that regular marijuana use can reduce the effectiveness of pain relief after surgery, so we work with our patients to curb use of all types of pain medication, including marijuana, prior to any surgical procedures.
Diabetes has been associated with lower back pain in some patients, particularly in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. Studies have shown a link between hyperglycemia and disc degeneration as well as an increased incidence of back pain with disease severity.
To relieve pain while traveling, try these 5 tips:
- Support your lower back
- Invest in a travel pillow
- Plant your feet
- Sit up straight
Most doctors recommend getting only three spinal injections per year. This is because getting steroid injections too often can throw your natural hormone production off balance.
Is spine surgery appropriate for you?
Can diet speed up recovery from spine surgery?
Select Your Spine Care Destination
Now that you’ve learned the best course to relief from back pain and neck pain, the next step is up to you. Choose your best destination based on your condition and click on the sign post to get more information that can help you get back on the road to pain-free living.