Back pain can range from a mild,
dull, annoying ache, to persistent, severe, disabling pain. Pain in your back can limit
your ability to move. It can interfere with normal functioning and quality of life.
Always talk with your healthcare provider if you have persistent pain.
Neck pain occurs in the area of the
cervical vertebrae in your neck. Because of its location and range of motion, your neck
is often left unprotected and at risk for injury.
Pain in your back or neck area can
come on suddenly and intensely. Chronic pain lasts for weeks, months, or even years. The
pain can be constant or come and go.
Even with today's technology, the
exact cause of back and neck pain is hard to find. In most cases, back and neck pain may
have many different causes. They include:
Symptoms linked to back pain may
Loss of bladder and bowel control,
with weakness in both legs, are symptoms of a serious condition that needs medical
attention right away.
Symptoms linked to neck pain can
Pain that occurs suddenly in your
back or neck from an injury ia 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
Pain that may come on quickly or
slowly and lingers for 3 months or greater is chronic pain. Chronic pain is less common
than acute pain.
Your healthcare provider will ask
about your health history and do a physical exam. He or she may also do X-rays of the
affected areas, as well as an MRI. This allows a more complete view. The MRI also makes
pictures of soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. The MRI can help
spot infection, tumor, inflammation, or pressure on your nerve. Sometimes a blood test
may help diagnose arthritis, a condition that can cause back and neck pain.
In many cases, acute back or neck
pain may simply improve with some rest. Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen
or ibuprofen may also help with the discomfort. Try to move gently during this period,
so that you won't become stiff and lose mobility.
If you have chronic pain of your
back and neck, try several remedies before considering surgery. These include:
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. Your
active involvement is key to the success of rehab programs.
The goal of back and neck rehab is
to help you manage disabling pain,. It's also important to return you to your highest
level of functioning and independence, and improve your quality of life. The focus of
rehab is on easing pain and improving movement.
To help reach these goals, back and
neck rehab programs may include:
Complications of back and neck pain may include:
It is a good idea to see a
healthcare provider if you have numbness or tingling, or if your pain is severe and does
not get better with medicine and rest. If you have trouble urinating, have weakness,
pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, call your
healthcare provider right away.
The following may help to prevent back and neck pain:
See your healthcare provider if you have:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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