Neck & Back Pain

Overview

Neck and back pain affect an exorbitant number of individuals in our country. The fast-paced lifestyles of today have literally become a pain in the neck (and back.) Take a look at these shocking statistics plaguing our nation:
  • Neck pain alone affects more than 10% of the population at any given time.
  • 85% of neck pain is a result of acute or repetitive neck trauma.
  • 8 out of 10 people will suffer from low back pain at some time in their life.
  • Back pain is the number one cause of disability in 19-45 year olds.
  • Back pain is the second leading cause of missed workdays.
  • The total annual cost for back pain treatments is estimated to be about $60 billion.
  • Low back pain accounts for more than $50 billion through medical care and lost production each year.
  • Low back pain is the number one disability culprit in workers' compensation claims.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

There are many causes of neck and back pain, such as poor posture, sports injuries, muscle strains, car accidents, arthritis, and even referred pain from internal organs. The events leading up to the onset of the pain, the intensity and location of the pain, as well as any associated symptoms are very important in properly diagnosing the cause of the pain. Here are some examples of types of neck and back pain and their usual presentation:
  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD) presents as a dull aching-type pain that develops slowly over time. It is often caused by improper posture, repetitive stress to joints, and/or decreased nutrient supply to cartilage.
  • Heart attack or gall bladder dysfunction often presents with sharp upper back or shoulder pain.
  • Lumbar disc herniations usually present with the sudden onset of low back pain that radiates down the leg below the knee and increases with coughing or sneezing.  Disc herniations usually result from improper heavy lifting, twisting, or repetitive stress to the low back.
  • Sciatica presents with low back pain that radiates down the back of the leg.
  • Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition that presents with the sudden onset of low back pain accompanied by bladder or bowel dysfunction and numbess of both legs, inner thighs, buttocks, and sometimes feet. If you are experiencing these conditions, you should see a doctor immediately.
  • Muscle strain or ligament sprain may cause minimal to severe pain depending on the severity of trauma to the damaged tissue.  Strains and sprains may also present with swelling, muscle spasms, and decreased ranges of motion in the affected area.
  • Whiplash

Medical Treatment

The medical treatment for neck and back pain depends on how long you've been in pain, how severe the pain is, and the cause of the pain. However, like most medical treatments, drugs and surgery are almost always involved.

For acute neck or back pain, the medical treatment involves muscle relaxers and/or painkillers.  Although these medications can offer temporary relief, they do not address the cause of the neck or back pain, so when they are discontinued, the pain often returns.

For chronic neck or back pain, medical treatments include nerve root blocks, facet joint injections, muscle injections, and antidepressants. If the neck or back pain is severe, certain surgical procedures may be performed, such as discectomies, where a part of the disc is removed and spinal fusions, where two spinal segments are fused together preventing movement in the segment causing the pain.

How We Can Help

Many people suffering from neck or back pain find chiropractic care to be a safe, natural, noninvasive, and extremely beneficial way to address their problem.

And, since only 5% of back pain cases are actually caused by a severe spinal pathology, conservative care, such as chiropractic, should be the first option for treatment. Unlike prescription drugs, injections, or spinal surgery, the chiropractic approach to treating neck and back problems does not focus only on the pain. This is important because, contrary to popular belief, neck and low back problems do not fully resolve without the proper treatment and rehabilitation.  In other words, just because the pain is gone, doesn't mean that proper biomechanics have been reestablished, which puts individuals at risk of a relapse in symptoms.

Read more about this topic in Dr. Spradlin's Blog and Health News