Living with chronic back pain isn’t easy. In fact, depending on the severity of the pain and its consistency, chronic back pain can get in the way of enjoying your life. If you are experiencing some level of back pain, you are not alone. Most people in the U.S. will experience back pain to some degree at least once in their lifetime. Back pain is also one of the most common reasons people call off work or seek out their primary care physician.
The back is made of numerous components working together to allow your body’s movement and flexibility. When a part or various parts of your back are damaged or injured, that can cause immense pain and impact your quality of life. If you are experiencing back pain that makes it hard to get through your day, it may be time to speak with a medical professional. At NJ Spine & Orthopedics, we dedicated ourselves to providing our patients with personalized and unmatched medical care. Our award-winning, board-certified medical team is proud to provide the community of Garfield, New Jersey, with the best and most effective medical treatments for back pain relief.
What Are the Different Parts of the Spine?
A healthy spine consists of three natural curves that make an S-shape. These curves absorb the stress on the body and protect the spine from injury. The different parts that make up the spine are:
The spine contains 33 stacked vertebrae (small bones) that form the spinal canal. The spinal canal is a tunnel that protects the spinal cord and nerves.
Facet joints have cartilage (slippery connective tissue) that allows vertebrae bones to slide against one another. These joints let the body twist and turn, providing flexibility and stability.
These discs are flat, round cushions that sit between the vertebrae acting as the spine’s shock absorber. The discs have a soft, gel-like center called the nucleus pulposus and are surrounded by a flexible outer ring called the annulus.
Spinal Cord and Nerves
The spinal cord extends from the skull to the lower back and comprises a column of nerves that travel through the spinal canal. There are thirty-one pairs of nerves that branch out through vertebral openings called the neural foramen. These nerves branch out, carrying messages between the brain and muscles.
The soft tissues in the spine consist of ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Tendons connect muscles to bone and help the body move. Muscles support the back, and ligaments connect the vertebrae to the spine, holding it in position.
Most Common Non-Surgical Treatments for Chronic Back Pain
Most back pain can be relieved at home with rest, proper at-home remedies, and over-the-counter medications. Common non-surgical treatments for chronic back pain include:
Proper exercise is a vital element in treating chronic back pain. Exercise is often the first treatment plan a physician may recommend before considering other surgical options. However, exercise plans are not a one-size-fits-all and should be tailored to the patient’s specific symptoms and conditions.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Emotional stress and anxiety can manifest themselves physically. Managing your emotional state or depression can help relieve some of the back pain you may be experiencing.
Sometimes the way we’re moving our body through the day negatively impacts our spinal health. Speaking with a spinal specialist can help shine a light on some of our more unhealthy habits and how they’re contributing to back pain.
Common alternative treatments for chronic back pain include:
- Biofeedback therapy
- Laser therapy
- Electrical nerve stimulation
There are a variety of non-surgical spine treatments that can make a significant difference for those living with chronic back pain.
Over-the-counter medications can be a huge help for those experiencing severe back pain. However, prolonged use of anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants can have unwanted side effects. If your pain is severe and constant, it may be time to seek out a spinal specialist rather than risk further damage with prolonged use of over-the-counter medications.
When Is It Time to See a Doctor About My Back Pain?
Back pain can range from mild to severe, from a muscle ache to a burning and stabbing sensation. The more severe the pain, the harder it can be to go on your day. However, because back pain is so common sometimes, it can be difficult to know when your pain has reached the limit of being able to relieve it without professional help. Here are a few indicators that it may be time to schedule an appointment with a Garfield, New Jersey spine specialist.
- Pain persists for more than a few weeks
- Pain is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
- Pain spreads down one or both legs
- Pain extends to below the knee
- Pain causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs
- Pain is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
- Pain is accompanied by bowel or bladder problems
- Pain is accompanied by a fever
- Pain arises after a fall, blow, or injury to your back
The symptoms above are indicators that the back pain you are experiencing may require more treatment than adjusting your lifestyle. Speaking with a spine doctor about your pain can help find the source of your pain and prevent further damage to your spine.
Spinal Specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedics Located in Garfield, New Jersey
The medical team at NJ Spine & Orthopedics is here to help the community of Garfield, New Jersey, find much-needed pain relief. Our expert spine surgeons, physicians, neurologists, and neurosurgeons can build your treatment plan around you and your specific needs. Our goal is to provide you with the most effective and least invasive treatment plan to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.