Understanding Spine Pain and Management

Spine pain is pain felt in the back or neck. Although most pain is temporary, it may reoccur.

The main cause of this pain is a sprain in ligament or muscle strain. In most cases, this may happen due to the activity you’re not accustomed to such as picking up heavy load, moving furniture, etc.

Pain due to spinal damage is rare. In some cases, this may be a condition one was born with.
Most patients may suffer from other symptoms such as weakness, stiffness, or numbness, in arms and legs. Spine issues does not affect bowel and bladder functioning.

Conditions Causing Spine Pain

Abnormal Curvature
Natural curves of spine balance the body. When curves become too pronounced or suffer from a twist or extra curve, additional pressure on the discs and vertebrae results in pain.

Fractures
These may occur due to an injury, repeated stress, or even a condition such as osteoporosis, that cause bones to go weak and brittle.

Degenerated Disc
Natural aging or wear-and-tear results in degenerated discs which irritate spinal nerves and leads to instability causing pain.

Bulging Disc
Weak outer wall of spinal disc can bulge towards the nerves causing painful nerve irritation.

Herniated Disc
Rupture of tearing of the outer wall of a spinal disc can cause the soft material in the disc to squeeze out and press on the adjoining nerves. The patient may experience weakness in legs, numbness or pain in the back.

Instability
Slipping of connecting vertebrae back and forth can cause spinal instability. In some cases, this happens even when the vertebrae permanently shift out of position.

Stenosis
The condition is characterized by narrowing of the spinal canal. It can press on the spinal cord and nerves leading to pain and other symptoms.

Nerve Complications
This may lead to weakness, pain, numbness, and other issues in the body.

Symptoms of Spine Pain
Apart from pain, patient may experience other symptoms such as the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weakness, slow reflexes
  • Numbness
  • Tingling (pins and needles)
  • Fever, chills, sweating
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Stress or emotional issues

When To See a Doctor
In case, you experience any of the above listed symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor or a spine specialist as soon as possible. If you feel that spine pain has become a hurdle in your daily activities, reach out to a doctor. You may need special care and spine pain management under the guidance of an expert.

Diagnosis and Tests
Prior to suggesting a treatment, your doctor may conduct a sequence of exams or test. This will help your doctor to understand the exact cause of your spine pain. Some of the common tests conducted in this respect include the following listed below:

Physical Exam
The doctor will assess patient’s body and its movement. Simple exercises can help assess patient’s strength, flexibility, tenderness (touching parts of body), sensation and sensitivity, reflexes and motor skills.

X-ray
Details of pictures of bones, organs, and tissues are created by beams of low-dose radiation on film.

MRI
Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses a magnetic field and radio waves for creating images. The test is useful for displaying details of soft-tissue structures such as nerves in and around the spine.

■CT Scan
Computed tomography (CT) is a test that uses a computer and x-rays for creating cross-section views (“slices”) of various areas of the body. It can highlight abnormal tissue and display bone detail.

Bone Density Scan
The scan makes use of x-ray or ultrasound to measure exact amount of bone in a specific area. It can help detect and assess osteoporosis (a condition characterized by thinning of bones).

■Electrodiagnostic Testing
This term covers a wide range of tests to measure electrical activity in muscles and nerves.
The most common tests include: •Electromyogram (EMG) •Nerve conduction study (NCS)

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