4 Common Back Pain Types, Their Conditions and Treatments
The pain in your neck or back is getting worse. Standing for longer than a few minutes is increasingly painful. Your arm went numb trying to pour a cup of coffee. Your neck has become so stiff that turning your head is difficult.
Sound familiar? It’s time to see a doctor.
While you’ve accepted that you need to have your symptoms looked at, the thought of needing spine surgery can be daunting. This is why NJ Spine & Orthopedic offers quick and simple minimally invasive alternatives to traditional orthopedic surgery.
The first step towards a pain-free life is diagnosing the cause of your aches and pains. Read our common back pain symptoms checker to help you understand your pain and see what it could mean for you:
Symptom #1: Chronic neck pain, with difficulty turning neck
In many cases, this pain is frequent and hampers daily life. Neck pain and tingling in the arms are common, along with the inability to turn the head from side to side. Pain and tingling may also occur in the lower back, causing back pain that can spread into the upper legs. These symptoms may grow worse with everyday movements such as twisting, bending, reaching or lifting.
What it could be: Degenerative Disc Disease
Increasing age most often causes disc degeneration, although one does not have to be elderly to have it. The condition is caused by normal changes in the spine as aging occurs, and is one of the most common causes of back pain in middle-aged and older adults.
How it’s treated: If medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to correct the pain, a minimally invasive cervical procedure known as Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement is recommended. A small one-centimeter incision is made along the back of the neck to remove the existing, degenerated disc and replaced by a new disc designed to work with the natural motion of the spine.
Symptom #2: Leg pain that extends down the back of the leg
You have pain that originates in the lower back, but is much worse in the legs. The pain travels from the buttocks area down the back of the leg. Sufferers of this condition have trouble standing and typically feel better when lying down or walking.
What it could be: Sciatica
Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is one of several conditions that result from a herniated disc—which has a number of different symptoms depending on where it’s located. This condition is one of the most common to result from a herniated disc, caused by the damaged disc’s pressure on the sciatic nerve until it becomes a chronic condition. Many will confuse symptoms of Sciatica with a leg problem.
How it’s treated: As with disc degeneration, an Endoscopic Discectomy is also used for Sciatica to remove part of the herniated disc causing the sciatic nerve pain.
Symptom #3: Severe pain in the lower back
This pain gets worse and worse over time, especially when standing for long periods. Bending forward helps alleviate some of the pain. Other symptoms include tightness in the buttocks and upper legs that never seems to go away.
What it could be: Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, often at the base of the spine, which results in a severe, burning pain. Natural aging is the main culprit, but genetics, such as being born with a smaller canal or an inherited disorder, and poor posture, such as slouching, can also lead to stenosis.
How it’s treated: Self-care treatments, such as medications or physical therapy, are prescribed first before our doctors turn to a one-day outpatient procedure known as a Laminoforaminotomy. Here, we create a very small incision, approximately two centimeters, in the back and insert a narrow tube to eliminate the stenosis without cutting any surrounding muscle. This technique, unique to NJ Spine & Orthopedic, allows patients to recover within days.
Symptom #4: A radiating pain in the neck, back or limbs with decreased mobility
Dull, localized pain often radiates outward or down the back, and affects either the arms or legs—depending on if the pain originated in the upper or lower back. The most common symptom accompanying the radiating pain is a lack of mobility and a decreased range of motion. Other characterizing symptoms include numbness, tingling or muscle weakness.
What it could be: Slipped Disc
Also called Spondylolisthesis, a Slipped Disc can be one of the most painful spine conditions, depending on its severity. It occurs when a vertebra slips out of position and moves onto the bone directly below it, which puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord. A Slipped Disc is most common in the neck, but can occur anywhere on the spine.
How it’s treated: A Slipped Disc has a two-stage treatment process, depending on severity:
- Decompressive Laminectomy – Helps repair the vertebra causing pressure on the spinal cord by removing part of the bone to make more room for the affected nerves.
- Spinal Fusion – Improves overall stability of the spine and is required for more severe cases of Spondylolisthesis, or when a Laminectomy fails to fix the problem. The two affected vertebrae are fused together using minimally invasive techniques that require no cutting of the muscle.
Many spinal conditions have similar side effects, so it’s important to discuss your pain with an orthopedic doctor so he or she can give you a proper diagnosis and provide treatment options.
If minimally invasive spine surgery is necessary for your symptoms, our orthopedic surgeons will have you feeling like new again by effectively fixing your back or neck issues without the pain and stress of an open-back operation. Minimally invasive spine surgery can be done in one day with little recovery time.
You can also use our Pain Assessment Tool to identify your symptoms and get answers regarding possible conditions before speaking with a doctor.
Back pain can be debilitating, but it doesn’t mean you’re stuck living with it. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, let our team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic take a look at it. We’re passionate about getting you back to a happy and healthy lifestyle.