Although many people will suffer from back or neck pain at some point in their lives, it can be quite difficult to diagnose these acute, short-term problems. Often, a muscle strain may be the culprit, which can heal in a manner of days or weeks. But for chronic pain in the neck and back, doctors have named a variety of disorders that people commonly experience. From sciatica to spinal stenosis, being aware of a few of these common painful conditions may help people suffering from back injuries understand why they are in pain and what treatment paths to take when they are recovering.
If a person has shortening of muscle fibers or periodic spasms in the neck, spasmodic torticollis may be the problem. The neck muscles may contract so much that the neck is forced to turn from a neutral position to a deranged one. Unfortunately, though, doctors do not know what actually causes this condition. A reaction to drugs or medication is the most common reason people suffer from spasmodic torticollis, but the actual reason that some people develop it is uncertain. Treatments for the condition involve such modalities as physical therapy, injections of botulinum toxin into the neck muscles, drugs to control the pain, or even surgery in some cases.
Sciatica is a condition in which the nerve roots are compressed. The most common cause is a vertebral disc begins to protrude out of the spinal column and additional pressure is put on the spinal cord. Osteoarthritis, bony irregularities, tumors, and abscesses may also cause sciatica. People who have this condition often describe the pain as burning or stabbing, and pain or numbness may be felt all the way from the lower back to the feet, with discomfort in the hips or knees also present. Rest, rehabilitative exercises, spinal flossing, medication, and surgery have all be used to treat sciatica, with varying degrees of success in different patients.
Another disorder that can cause harmful pressure on the spinal cord and sciatic nerve roots is called lumbar spinal stenosis. This results from a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back or upper back regions. In fact, it may even be one of the causes of sciatica. Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis or disc degeneration may lead to spinal stenosis. Pain is most commonly experienced in the hips, thighs, and even down to the calves, and may be felt when standing, walking, and running. The treatments for spinal stenosis are similar to treatments for sciatica and aim to reduce spinal compression causing pain.
Though there are a number of other conditions that can cause pain in the back and neck, these ones detailed here are some of the most common but most debilitating for those suffering from them. Pain in the lower back and neck can be very uncomfortable, even when it lasts only for a day or a week at the most. But chronic conditions such as sciatica or disc disease can cause pain for a great portion of person’s life. This makes it even more important to find ways to deal with the problem by reducing the pain and then relearning how to move without severe back or neck pain.