Spine and Back PainSpine and Back Pain

Spine and back pain can cause excruciating pain and about 80% of people experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. Also, the pain can become debilitating, causing problems with daily activities and sleeping.

At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we have a team of board-certified and fellowship-trained doctors, Richard Hostin, MD, Shyam Kishan, MD, and Kathryn Wiesman, MD.  They have a lot of experience in treating and diagnosing spine and back pain. To ensure a better quality of life, they effectively diagnose and manage your unique condition. In addition, our physicians have been voted the best back doctors by D Magazine for many years. Furthermore, we have two spine centers, one in Dallas and the other in Plano, TX.  Please check out our location page to see your closest “spine surgeon near me” and make an appointment to discuss your back pain.

Anatomy of the Spine and Back

Cervical Spine

The cervical spine supports the weight of the head. While providing safe passage for the nerves connecting the brain to the rest of the body through the spinal column. The cervical spine is vulnerable to injuries involving neck strains and car accidents.

Thoracic Spine

This part of the spine has a limited range of movement. The rib cage attaches to this section of the spine. Additionally, the rib’s primary function is to protect vital organs of the thoracic region of the body and provide resilience and structural support to the upper back as well.

Lumbar Spine

The lumbar spine carries the weight of the upper body. After years of wear and tear from properly and improperly lifting heavy objects, degeneration can occur. The lumbar spine also performs the most motion making it easily injured.

Sacral Region

This region is located at the very bottom of the spine. Because of its location, It gets wear and tear from twisting and heavy lifting — causing pain over time.

Types of Back Pain

Doctors categorize back pain into two types based on severity and time frame.

Acute Back Pain

Acute back pain usually lasts from a few days to weeks. This type of pain usually results suddenly and can result from a strain in muscles or certain ligaments. Acute pain appears as sharp pain and goes away as soon as the cause goes away or gets corrected  Pain should not continue for more than six months.

Chronic Back Pain

This type of pain persists for weeks to months and even years without medication and proper treatment. Sometimes, it even progresses to a much bigger problem and causes other conditions that will need addressing.  When pain continues for longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment, it gets classified as chronic pain.  Sometimes, chronic back pain does subside for a bit, however, it returns when the location of the pain gets disturbed or irritated again.

Causes of Spine and Back Pain

Back and spine painStrain

A very common cause of back pain occurs because of strain, tension, or injury. Some of these strains involve:

  • Strained Muscles or Ligaments
  • Muscle Sprains
  • Muscle Tension
  • Damaged Intervertebral discs
  • Injuries, Fractures, or falls.

Some of the activities that could cause strains are:

  • Improper lifting of heavy objects
  • Abrupt and awkward movements.
  • A fall

 

 

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Structural Problems

Structural problems involving the spine and discs can cause back pain.

Some of these problems include:

Ruptured Disc

Intervertebral discs function to cushion each vertebra in the spine. When it gets ruptured, it causes increased pressure on the nerves. This pressure in the area could lead to back pain or other conditions.

Bulging Disc

Like the case of ruptured discs, bulging discs also increase the pressure on the spine which can cause pain. Although the pain may not cause the severe pain of a ruptured disc, it can still disrupt daily activities and sleep as well.

Sciatica

Sciatica originates from a bulging or herniated disc putting pressure on the nerves of the leg. This leads to a sharp shooting pain that travels through the buttock down to the leg. The pain can start out as intermittent but can become constant.

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis usually causes problems in the joints located in the hip, back, and other places in the body. When the space around the spinal cord narrows, in some cases, doctors refer to the condition as Spinal Stenosis. This puts pressure on the nerves, which then causes pain in those areas that the nerves are connected to.

Abnormal Curvature of Spine

The abnormal curving of the spine can lead to back pain. The cause can lead to Scoliosis or Kyphosis. In either case, the lack of movement may cause pain when trying to walk or breathe.

Osteoporosis

Due to age and several other factors, bones in the spine and other parts of the body may become brittle and porous making compression fractures more likely to occur. Doctors can treat this problem, and thus, help the bone heal.

Movement and Posture

A person’s posture has a great effect on the spine. For example, while sitting, most people tend to hunch their backs a bit. Especially when working on a desk or computer. This could lead to back pain.

Some other everyday activities that can lead to back pain include:

  • Performing Twists
  • Sneezing and coughing violently
  • Stretching excessively
  • Awkward bending, standing or sitting for extended periods
  • Long driving sessions without breaks

Other causes of back pain include;

  • Cauda Equina Syndrome
  • Cancer or Infection of the Spine
  • Sleep disorders
  • Shingles

Symptoms of Spine and Back Pain

Some back issues can cause pain in other parts of the body (referred pain), depending on which nerves are affected. Back pain should subside in a short period.  However, if the back pain combines with any of the following then you need to see a spine doctor as soon as possible.

  • Weight Loss
  • Fever
  • Inflammation or Swelling
  • Constant Back Pain that does not go away by laying down or resting
  • Leg Pain
  • Recent Injury or Trauma to the back
  • Difficult Urination
  • Inability to Control Bowel Movements
  • Numbness in hands, or legs.

Diagnosis of Spine and Back Pain

Doctors can diagnose back pain relatively easily depending on the experience and equipment available to your doctors. At Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we have the latest technology available. Usually, your spine doctor can diagnose the pain through your symptoms and physical exams. Sometimes he will order additional testing to help confirm a specific diagnosis. These additional tests can include:

X-rays

X-rays show the alignment of bones and also detect signs of arthritis. At the Dallas clinic, we have the EOS X-ray system, which uses a very small dose of radiation. And the scan can happen in just a few minutes.

MRI or CT scans

This type of scan usually displays more information about the bone and soft tissue. It can reveal herniated/ bulged discs, issues with tissues, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, and muscles.

Bone Scans

This diagnostic test determines the health of your bones. This scan also detects bone tumors.

Electromyography

This test will help detect and confirm compression of nerves which can result from herniated discs or spinal stenosis. Its measures electrical impulses produced by nerves in response to muscle impulses.

Blood Test

Blood tests  will confirm or rule out an infection.

Treatment of Back and Spine Pain with Medications

The prescribed medications will depend on the type of back pain diagnosed by your doctor. The patients can also get over-the-counter drugs if the symptoms are mild. If these medications do not help with the pain, a stronger medication can get prescribed. Or your doctor may decide to consult a pain management doctor for further diagnosis.

Pain Relievers

Medications called NSAIDs may help with pain and are sold over the counter.

Muscle Relaxants

If NSAIDs do not alleviate the pain, then muscle relaxers might help. Although these types of medications may have side effects like dizziness and sleepiness.

Topical Pain Relievers

These pain relievers are usually in the form of ointments, creams, patches, or salves. They can relieve your pain when they come in direct contact with your skin.

Narcotics

When pain does not go away from other drugs, narcotics like opioids might work and are prescribed by doctors.

Other Pain Treatment Options for Spine and Back Pain

In a situation where the above-listed options are ineffective, other treatment options are considered. And your spine surgeon will help direct you to the best choice for your situation.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps with your spine and back pain. Application of heat, ice, and even electrical stimulation can help alleviate pain. As the pain subsides, some minor stretches and exercises for the back and abdominal muscles are introduced. These exercises are to help you build muscles to support your spine. The patient is advised to do the techniques regularly to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Your physical therapist will develop the best exercise plan for you and your treatment.

Cortisone Injections

This is an anti-inflammatory drug that is injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord. It functions mainly to reduce inflammation around the nerve roots and can also numb pain areas. It is used in situations where the pain is diagnosed as caused by inflammation.

Traction during Physical Therapy

Your Physical Therapist will decide if Traction can help. This treatment involves the use of pulleys and weights to stretch the back. This method could help move a bulged disc into position and alleviate pain in the process.

Surgery

Finally, our Spine Surgeons consider surgery as a last resort when all other conservative measures have been exhausted. When all the other methods to reduce pain have been tried with no improvement, doctors may recommend surgery.  Based on research and decades of experience, our doctors know that surgery will significantly reduce or eliminate pain related to structural problems like scoliosis, kyphosis, or a herniated disc that did not respond to other treatment options.

Our patients don’t have to worry if surgery is the best option as it is performed excellently. Our highly trained surgeons will help you get back to living the life you deserve. They will decide which surgery would alleviate your pain and get you on the road to recovery.

Tips for A Healthy Spine and Back for life

Below are some suggestions to ensure your healthy spine and back  remain healthy:

  • Regular Exercise
  • Good Posture
  • Avoid Heavy Lifting
  • More Sport Participation
  • Daily Minor Stretches

Check out our Dallas, TX and Plano, TX offices. See which one would be more convenient for you.

If you or your loved one is suffering from Scoliosis, complex spine conditions, or need revision surgery there is hope. We can help and we suggest you travel to our offices for a free consultation. Call Southwest Scoliosis Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.