When To See A Doctor
Most simple back pain will start to improve within a day or two of restricted activity and over-the-counter medication. If you find yourself taking more and more pills to relieve back pain, or if the pain is getting worse, you’ll want to contact a back specialist. After a thorough medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests a doctor may be able to determine if there is a specific cause of your pain and will recommend appropriate treatments.
Not all chronic pain is treatable. Pain management is an integrated approach to making pain tolerable by learning physical, emotional, intellectual and social skills. This may include exercise, physical therapy, medication, relaxation, acupuncture, behavior changes, biofeedback, hypnosis, and counseling. When you use pain management techniques, you stay in control of your own health. These techniques also help the brain produce it’s own pain medications called endorphins, which literally means “morphine within” .
First Steps To Relieve Neck Pain
The causes of routine strain-and-sprain neck pain vary. If you wake up with a “crick” in your neck, it’s probably the sharp muscle contractions known as spasms, caused by a muscle strain. A sprain, in contrast, happens in ligamentsthe tough tissues that connect bones together. Alternatively, a tendonthe tissue that attaches muscles to bonesmay become inflamed, causing tendinitis. Basic self-help takes care of most routine neck pain flare-ups:
- Use cold to numb the early acute pain and reduce inflammation.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers to control mild to moderate pain. These include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen , naproxen , or aspirin.
- Use a neck collar for short periods to rest the painful muscles and tissues and ease your discomfort. “Collars have a bad reputation from people overusing them and getting weak muscles, but used a few hours here and there they can be very useful,” Dr. Shmerling says.
- Apply heateither with a heating pad or by using a warm whirlpool bath if one is availableafter a day or two, once the acute pain calms down.
Should you go to a chiropractor to get your neck “cracked”? Dr. Shmerling counsels against sudden, strenuous manipulation of the neck. “It may be fine for low back pain, but avoid it for neck pain,” he says.
Vitamins Minerals & Herbs
Nutrition is where it starts to improve and get rid of inflammation in the body. Given the proper recommendations for vitaminsand mineralsthe body has the optimal potential to regenerate. These nutrients will help to play a critical role in helping reduce inflammation, discomfort, back, and neck pain.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, also commonly known as turmeric. The effects of curcumin are limited due to its low bioavailability. Research has suggested the use of bio-curcumin rather than curcumin due to the relatively higher bioavailability and absorption rates. In a clinical study published in the Indian Journal to study the bioavailability of curcuminoids, the bioavailability of BMC-95 was approximately 6.93 fold compared to just curcumin and about 6.3 fold compared to curcumin-lecithin-piperine formula. 1
5-loxin is derived from Boswellia serrata extract enriched with 30% 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid . This has anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme.2 A double blind, randomized placebo-controlled study was completed to assess the efficacy and safety of 5-loxin for treatments of osteoarthritis of the knee. 2 At the end of the study, results showed significant improvements in discomfort in osteoarthritis patients. 5-loxin has been shown to help reduce discomfort, reduce inflammatory modulators, improve physical function and joint health. 2
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The Universal Guide To Upper Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
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Upper back pain can be a little like salsa or Buffalo wingswe know, bear with us.
- First, theres mild: Just a twinge of the tastebuds if were talking sauce, and slight pain thats easy to ignore when it comes to the upper back.
- Then theres medium/moderate: Now were getting somewhere. Youre gonna feel it, but usually only if you take a deep breath or sneeze or move too quickly.
- Finally, weve got spicy: the equivalent to pain so intense you feel the burn from doing the simplest daily tasks, or even nothing at all!
Upper back pain is usually caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains, muscle tension caused by poor posture, or looking downward for long time periods. Photo Source:123RF.com. Thing is, upper back pain affects everyone differently. Partly thats because there are so many possible reasons for your upper back pain. The first step in solving your upper back pain problem is understanding why its happening. To do that, start with learning your anatomy.
Cervical And Lumbar Stabilization And Exercise
When acute pain decreases enough that motion is possible, a cervical or lumbar stabilization program is begun under the supervision of a physical therapist. This program should be started as soon as practical and includes restoration of motion, exercises that strengthen paraspinal muscles, and instruction in work posture the aim is to strengthen the supporting structures of the back and reduce the likelihood of the condition becoming chronic or recurrent. In low back pain, “core” muscle strengthening is important and often begins with a progression from working on a table in a supine or prone position, to quadruped , and finally to standing activities.
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Fixing Upper Back And Neck Pain
Upper back and neck pain can stop you in your tracks, making it difficult to go about your typical day. The reasons behind this discomfort vary, but they all come down to how we hold ourselves while standing, moving, and most important of all sitting.
Neck and upper back pain can limit your movements and capabilities. If you dont do anything about your pains, they can get worse, spread, and limit you further. This is usually because the muscles around your immediate area of pain have tensed up to protect that one spot. That expansion limits movement and can turn one clenched muscle under your shoulder blade into a painful shoulder and a tension headache.
Causes of upper back and neck pain include:
- improperly lifting something heavy
Our love of screens is also a likely culprit in upper back and neck pain. Sitting all day working on a computer screen, craning your neck to read the news on your phone on the way home, and slumping on the couch to watch several hours of television are great ways to throw your body out of alignment.
Like many health conditions, the effects of neck and back pain can be more severe in people who smoke or are overweight. Excess weight can add more pressure on the muscles.
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your neck pain, including how often it occurs and how much it hurts.
Your provider will probably not order any tests during the first visit. Tests are only done if you have symptoms or a medical history that suggests a tumor, infection, fracture, or serious nerve disorder. In that case, the following tests may be done:
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How Is Neck Pain Treated
The best way to treat most neck pain is to keep moving your neck, stay active and adapt any activities that might be causing your pain. Over-the-counter painkillers might be recommended.
If your neck pain doesnt go away, your doctor will investigate the cause. Serious, long-term neck pain is sometimes treated with steroid injections or, very rarely, surgery.
It might be helpful to rest your neck at first, but dont rest it for too long. If you dont move, the muscles will get stiffer and it will take longer for the pain to go away. Its better to gently stretch the neck muscles. Your doctor or physiotherapist can show you how to do this gently and safely.
There are ways you can manage your neck pain:
Don’t Rest An Achy Back
Doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain. But now we know that lying still is one of the worst things you can do. It can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. It’s important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try swimming, walking, or yoga.
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What Are Neck Pain Symptoms
Other than neck pain itself, you may notice other symptoms that accompany the pain. Some of the more common symptoms of neck pain include:
- Neck muscle stiffness: Tight muscles in the back of the head or a muscle knot in the neck. This may spread to your shoulders, upper back and arms.
- Headache: Experiencing headaches in the occipital region is very common but can also extend to the top of the head, causing “tension” headaches from muscle tightness.
- Pain and/or weakness that shoots down the arm: This may be caused by muscle fatigue or nerve compression. Very often along specific nerve roots .
- Loss of neck mobility: Inability to turn your head and neck easily.
- Paraesthesias: A sensation of numbness and/or tingling in the arms, most often caused by nerve compression at the level of the spine, or as the branching nerves pass through tight, inflamed muscles.
If your neck pain is caused by nerve compression, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
- A feeling of numbness or pins and needles in arm, fingers or hand
- Sharp, burning pain near the pinched nerve that radiates outward
Some conditions, such as coronary artery disease or even lung tumors may mimic these conditions, notes Stewart G. Eidelson, MD. It is best to have a skilled physician perform a thorough physical examination when the symptoms described are present, he says.
How Is Neck Pain Managed Or Treated
Treatment for neck pain varies depending on the cause. It aims to relieve pain and improve function. Standard treatments for this symptom include:
- Medicines including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain and inflammation and muscle relaxants to help the healing process.
- Physical therapy .
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation reduces pain by disrupting the pain signal with a low-level electrical current applied to the skin near the nerves causing the pain.
- Traction to relieve pain with the use of inflatable devices.
- Steroid injections near the nerve roots to help relieve pain and inflammation.
- Surgery to repair compressed or damaged spinal disks or fuse some vertebrae in the spine.
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Stretches To Help A Stiff Neck
The key to relief for a stiff neck is proper stretching and manipulation, Dr. Bang says. Doing slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear, can help to gently stretch the neck muscles. Certain yoga poses can also help ease stiffness.
Here are some other specific stretches you can try at your desk or in the car that may help you avoid a stiff neck:
- Roll your shoulders backwards and down 10 times.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times.
- Push your head backwards into your car head rest or hands and hold for 30 seconds.
- Bring your ear to your shoulder 10 times on each side.
Surgery Can Be A Good Option But Its Not The Only One
Surgery is a great solution for the right patients at the right time, but its not always the necessary thing to do, says Dr. Härtl. Some conditions, like a herniated disc, may require a minimally invasive operation where doctors take the pressure off the nerve. In those cases, these patients do very well. They go home the same day, and theyre essentially cured after the surgery, he says.
For many patients, there are a lot of nonsurgical options such as physical therapy, injections, yoga, or Pilates, says Dr. Härtl. Those are all things that can be tremendously helpful in keeping a spine healthy without surgery.
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What To Do With Pain
When you feel that you have injured your back, ease the pressure on your back. In fact, many people have little choicetheir back pain will force them to fall down to their knees or “freeze” in a bent-down position.
Cold and Heat
Remember this rule:’ Ice for the first 48 hours, then heat compress.’ Heat and ice will reduce the pain of muscle and ligament. Remember this rule. Ice reduces swelling and inflammation, acting as a local anesthetic, but it loses its effect after 48 hours. Temperature consequently increases blood flow to the profound tissues and relaxes muscle spasms.
The body’s defensive mechanism against discomfort or injury is inflammation marked by redness, heat, swelling, and pain. To help relieve and alleviate pain, it is often recommended to use over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin or ketoprofen.
A gentle massage can be a relief if you have a supportive partner by relaxing the tight muscles and ligaments.
Walking with a healthy posture might also help. A good way to visualize a healthy posture is by imagining a suspension line that connects your middle chest to the ceiling.
Key Points About Back And Neck Pain
- Back and neck problems range from minor aches to severe, disabling pain.
- Often, the reason for your pain can’t be found.
- See a healthcare provider if you have numbness or tingling, severe pain that does not improve with medicine and rest, trouble urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, unintentional weight loss, or pain after a fall.
- Often, back and neck pain will improve over time. See your healthcare provider if your pain is not decreasing.
- Use prevention strategies to keep yourself healthy and injury-free.
- For severe, disabling, or chronic back pain, consider an individualized rehabilitation program.
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When Physical Therapy May Be Recommended
Physical therapy for the neck might be recommended in a variety of cases, such as:
- Unspecified chronic pain. When neck pain lingers or keeps recurring, the exact source or mechanism of pain can be difficult to identify. Even without a diagnosis, increasing the strength of the necks muscles may help them to better support the cervical spine and become more resistant to pain.
- Recovering from injury. Some injuries, such as whiplash, can damage the necks soft tissues and joints, resulting in pain and/or stiffness that can last for weeks or much longer. A physical therapy program can reduce pain and help return the neck to normal functioning.
- Recovering from surgery. Some surgeries performed on the neck can result in significant pain and stiffness in the weeks and months that follow. For example, an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion surgery involves the fusion of 2 or more vertebrae in the neck, which can alter how some neck and upper back muscles move. In such cases, physical therapy may help to work through stiffness, increase neck function, and reduce or prevent painful spasms as the muscles are reconditioned.
Physical therapy for the neck may be recommended in other cases as well, such as part of a larger treatment program for other diseases or chronic conditions.
Pathophysiology Of Neck And Back Pain
Depending on the cause, neck or back pain may be accompanied by neurologic symptoms.
If a nerve root is affected, pain may radiate distally along the distribution of that root . Strength, sensation, and reflexes of the area innervated by that root may be impaired. Deep tendon reflex testing evaluates afferent nerves, synaptic connections within the spinal cord, motor nerves, and descending… read more .)
If the spinal cord is affected, strength, sensation, and reflexes may be impaired at the affected spinal cord level and all levels below .
Any painful disorder of the spine may also cause reflex tightening of paraspinal muscles.
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Carry Out Neck Exercises
This is a simple, yet effective form of neck pain physiotherapy treatment at home. Not only will exercising help strengthen the neck muscles it will also help to lower stress levels too. Before carrying out any neck exercises make sure your neck is not too stiff. You can loosen up your neck muscles by simply applying moist heat to it before you begin. When your neck feels relaxed enough, start by slowly rotating it in a circular motion, both clockwise and counter-clockwise. This will help stretch out any upset muscles. Then gently move it back and forth and side to side 5 or 6 times up to three times a day.
Stress Poor Sleep And Physical Ailments Over Time Can Lead To A Pain In The Neck
Everyday life isn’t kind to the neck. You may be all too familiar with that crick you get when you cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, or the strain you feel after working at your computer.
Neck pain rarely starts overnight. It usually evolves over time. And it may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disc disease, and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep, said Dr. Zacharia Isaac, medical director of the Comprehensive Spine Care Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and director of interventional physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
The following six tips can help you find neck pain relief:
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