What is Spine Pain?
Spine pain can be chronic or acute. Chronic pain is often related to a specific anatomical abnormality, whereas acute pain to injury. Because the spine consists of bones, ligaments, joints, discs and nerves, each is capable of causing pain. The types of pain may include:
• Bones when the vertebrae become damaged, and the damage impacts the surrounding discs and nerves. Bone spurs, or growths to the vertebrae, often occur due to aging. Arthritis and compression fractures of the vertebrae may be caused by trauma, osteoarthritis, or by a tumor.
• Ligaments or tendons when they are damaged due to injury or overwork.
• Joint pain due to inflammation of tissues between the joints. As a person ages, the joints lose flexibility, and osteoarthritis may develop.
• Disc pain when a disc becomes herniated, or ruptured, due to injury and the resulting pain impacts adjacent nerves.
• Nerve pain when a nerve becomes pinched or inflamed due to an impinging disc, and those nerves that innervate the spine become injured. Pain of this type impacts other parts of the body like sciatica, for instance.
Spine Pain Symptoms
There are several symptoms that indicate spine pain. Such pain affects the upper back including neck region and lower back including the pelvic area and below, like in the legs.
Lower back pain:
Lower back pain is most often a sign of spine pain. The cause is often due to the patient having improperly lifted something heavy that resulted in a sprain, pull, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the back. The lumbar spine, consisting of five vertebrae located at the lower back, is necessary for all types of movements. When these vertebrae are overworked or injured, a number of symptoms can occur. Pain in the legs may be caused by the lowest two discs becoming herniated, or sciatica, results with numbness down the legs.
Upper Back Pain:
The upper back supports the body and the ribcage. Pain is mostly felt in the muscles in the upper back region including the neck. Pain is also felt at the joints of the ribcage where the ribs join the spine. Furthermore, injury to the spine in this region may affect the internal organs. A serious injury to the spine can be detected through the sign of losing control of the bladder or bowels, severe and constant pain, and progressive lower extremity weakness.
Spine Pain Treatment
A patient should consider spine pain as serious. A professional should examine the condition, and when necessary make the appropriate referrals to a specialist for further investigation, diagnosis and spine pain treatment. Since pain can be acute and temporal, or chronic and ongoing, determining the cause is paramount before prescribing a treatment strategy.
Acute symptoms, due to a sprain or strain, usually heal themselves within a week or two. Pain relievers, heat treatments, specific exercises, and medications can help reduce the pain and speed up the healing process. Traumatic injuries could be severe and should be thoroughly investigated to make sure a chronic condition does not develop if left untreated.
Chronic symptoms require immediate attention as soon as the patient becomes cognizant of the pain. When chronic symptoms occur they are indicative of injury or degeneration. The pain will most likely be severe and will intensify with time and be unnerving to the patient.
Professionals who can treat spine pain include general practitioners, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, osteopathic physicians and chiropractors. Each will take a specific approach to treatment, for instance, drug, surgery, or manipulative, but each has a goal of eliminating the cause of pain.