Whenever neck and back pain is caused by something other than a traumatic sports injury or accident, such as an auto accident, the source can prove difficult for a sufferer to pinpoint. Patients often self-diagnose neck pain or back pain as attributed to a recent activity – such as strain from excessive gardening, playing an extra round of golf, or sleeping awkwardly. While these types of activities may precede the occurrence of pain, the source may be the result of years of small stress and injuries previously undetected.
Fortunately, many cases of neck pain, back pain and impeded range of motion can be treated non-surgically, with assorted combinations of physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments and medication. At the Gelb Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, our specialized physicians and staff have decades of experience in treating neck and back injuries − sports related and otherwise. Our approach to treating such injuries typically places surgery as the option considered once non-surgical options have proven to be ineffective in relieving pain.
Causes of Neck and Back Pain
The neck and the back are a marvel of strength and flexibility. However, the nerves, bones, cartilage and ligaments that contribute to their function can also be prone to a wide array of disorders. Aside from those instances of pain that are obvious results of traumatic injury, years of poor posture, ill-fitting shoes, improper exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and even a worn-out bed can all trigger pain in different regions of the back and neck. Some examples:
- Upper back pain can involve the shoulder blades and the point where the ribcage meets the spine. Fortunately for most people, injury to the upper back is relatively rare, since this part of the body does not move as much as the lower back or the neck. An individual may experience upper back pain when lifting heavy objects or sitting at a desk for long periods of time.
- Lower back pain is a more common type of disorder. The lower back contains the lumbar spine, which houses the vertebrae, or discs – spongy sacs of cartilage designed to cushion the back as you move. Surrounding the vertebrae are a wide range of muscles, tendons and ligaments – all subject to some kind of injury or medical condition. Herniated discs, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, sciatic nerve damage, and everyday sprains or strains all have an impact on the lower back. Subluxation, or misalignment of the discs, sends many people to chiropractic treatment or physical therapy.
- Neck pain can emanate from high-stress sports activities (such as soccer and football) – but also from such little-considered causes as holding your head in a forward position (such as when studying a computer screen), sleeping on a pillow that improperly supports your head, or resting your forehead or chin on your upright hand. Chronic conditions that lead to neck pain include fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Neck and Back Injuries
A number of the injuries we treat on a regular basis are those sustained from auto accidents. Whiplash is a common and well-known condition that afflicts a high percentage of individuals involved in an auto accident. Whiplash symptoms include pain and aching located in the neck and back, along with headaches, shoulder pain and tingling in the arms and legs. Auto injuries can also lead to cervical fracture, neck sprain and herniated disks. Herniated disk injuries refer to those that compromise the structure of the disks – the soft rubbery pads between the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spinal column).
A large portion of neck and back injuries are also sustained in the workplace. Manual occupations, such as construction, landscaping and factory work, can place undue stress on neck and back muscles, and joints. A number of debilitating conditions can result from the demands of heavy lifting or repetitive motion. Office jobs that require long periods of time at a desk can create injuries to the neck and back as well, particularly if individuals engage in poor habits with regard to posture or simply sitting for very long periods of time.
Fortunately many neck and back injuries can be effectively treated non-surgically. Such treatment options include physical therapy, stretching exercises, muscle strengthening exercises, activity modification, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications.
Treating Neck and Back Pain
Even very sharp and persistent pain may not be the result of an injury requiring a surgical solution. In many cases the problem can be addressed non-surgically – sometimes using spinal manipulation and a regimen of custom-designed physical therapy that helps realign the spine.
The Gelb Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center provides patients with state of the art diagnostics and treatment for neck pain, back pain and related injuries. Our onsite physical therapy and onsite X-rays ensure that patient care is offered with optimal convenience and efficiency.
For questions about neck and back treatment or to schedule an appointment:
Request an appointment online or contact us at 561-558-8898.