An Orthopedic Overview of Back and Neck Pain

An Orthopedic Overview of Back and Neck Pain

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

There are two different categories of back and neck pain: chronic and acute. Both are painful in their own way. 

Chronic pain usually develops over several years, and it is frequently the result of overuse and constant strain placed on the spine. It causes a dull, aching, or deep burning pain. Chronic pain in the neck or back is ongoing for several months or longer, and it is usually felt late in the day after you’ve been moving around for a number of hours.

Acute pain is typically sharp and sudden. It is normally caused by some sort of trauma, and it tends to subside within a few months or so. Acute back pain or neck pain may be crippling at first, and then it should dissipate after resting the painful area.

Causes of the Pain

There are many possible causes of acute back or neck pain, including:

  • Strain or tear in a muscle or ligament
  • Compression fracture due to trauma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Herniated or ruptured disc in the spine
  • Sleeping in an awkward position
  • Sleeping on a mattress that is too soft
  • Whiplash
  • Working at a computer for too long without moving around enough
  • Lifting a heavy object using poor form

Causes of chronic pain in the back and neck include: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative conditions to the joints or spinal discs
  • Tumors
  • Arthritis
  • Age-related bone fractures
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Cervical spondylotic myelopathy
  • Nerve root impingement
  • Herniated or ruptured disc 

Treating Acute Pain in the Back or Neck 

Acute back or neck injuries, while extremely painful, usually cause pain that is only temporary. Your physician will likely recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying covered ice to the injured area.

The doctor will explain the best methods for treating your painful back or neck, and you may also receive a prescription for a pain-relief medicine that’s stronger than what you can get otherwise. With proper rest and pain management, the injury should heal within 6-12 weeks. 

Treating Chronic Back and Neck Pain

There are many potential treatments for chronic back pain and neck pain. The best treatment usually depends on the location of the source of pain and the degree of your pain.

Some chronic pain-relief treatments include: 

  • Hot packs
  • Cold packs
  • Physical therapy
  • Calming exercises
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Muscle relaxants
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Wearing a brace to provide support
  • Nerve block and facet block injections
  • Acupuncture

Diagnosis of Back and Neck Pain

In addition to a physical exam, an orthopedist may order diagnostic imaging tests:

  • An X-ray will show the structures of the spine, including bone spurs or fractures.
  • An MRI will produce images of the soft tissues like ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. It can show a tumor, infection, inflammation, or pressure on a nerve.
  • A blood test can indicate the presence of arthritis, which could also be the cause of the pain.

Pain Clinic in Oklahoma City

If you suffer from back pain or neck pain, either from a car accident or due to chronic wear and tear, don’t despair. It is possible to manage your pain and keep it to a minimum so you can get back to enjoying life. 

Contact The Brooks Clinic by calling us at (405) 400-0877 or schedule a consultation online, and seek the relief your back or neck so desperately needs!