Probably, you might not know how amazing your neck functions, but it does! It is mounted with an 11-pound skull, protecting the cerebral vertebrae- the vertebrae of the neck connecting the brain and the body. Most importantly, it allows you to move, nod, bend your neck, giving you the leverage to work.
Just like the neck, the single spine in the back is constantly providing you with flexibility, stability, and rigidity to walk, stand, sit and work freely even after taking the whole burden of your upper body. With all this work, it is obvious for your neck and back to get stiff and sometimes even sore. However, it is not right to bear the pain for a prolonged period of time.
Is it normal?
An aching back and neck is normal with age but some symptoms if avoided can result in some serious diseases like a tumor or an infection. Neck pain alone is a leading cause of disability. Such pains are incredibly normal wherein study claims that 85% of people will face some sort of neck or back pain in their life. People between 40-60 years of age are more prone to neck and back pain which increases with the aging spine.
If you feel significant pain in addition to back and neck pain while performing daily activities, then you need to visit a specialized back and neck pain center.
severe pain at night
shooting pain down the leg
pain after an accident
consistent pain even after resting
At some point in time, a breakdown in your body’s mechanical system can cause back and neck pain. Below, we have discussed 5 causes:
The disc in the spine serves as a cushion between the bones of your back. This disc is made up of soft gel surrounded by a fibrous outer shell; this allows the disc to be firm during bending or turning. In older people, a part of the disc’s softcore bulges out of its normal position causing a condition ‘Herniated disc’.
It is a common cause of back and neck pain wherein you feel severe, intense and long-lasting pain normally in the lower part of your backbone and slowly the pain spreads to the back, buttocks, thighs, etc.
It starts with severe pain in the lower back through the hips and down the leg, known as ‘sciatica’. Mostly 90% of the herniated disc pain takes place in the lower back with severe pain in the leg accompanied by other symptoms like weakness, tingling, and intense pain in the leg.
Solution: Physical therapy, simple exercises, and stretches can help in relieving this condition. If done regularly, the chances of chronic pain can decrease, cutting surgical expenses.
It mostly occurs in the back and neck and commonly caused due to wear-and-tear changes in the spine due to osteoarthritis. Basically, it is a narrowing of the spaces in your spine. Under this condition, it pressurizes the nerve that travels through the spine. It gets worse with time wherein the pain becomes intense and severe.
Solution: A bit of exercise and change in lifestyle can improve your condition while anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the pain and swelling. Physical therapy can reduce pain by strengthening your muscles, maintaining flexibility and stability and body balance. Make sure you maintain flexed forward position and avoid activities that may bring pain.
In this condition, there is a breakdown of the cartilage in the joints or discs in the neck and lower back. In severe cases, it produces ‘spurs’ that puts stress on the nerves leading to the spinal column. It can pinch nerves, cause numbness, and create painful nights due to inflammation.
Solution: Exercise is a must for patients with OA. It increases the strength and flexibility of muscles and will help in overcoming tension in the muscle. While some patients may respond to pain relievers and cortisone injections are given to relieve inflammation for some period.
A road accident, incorrect or overdoing an exercise regimen or wrong posture can lead to a simple strain or sprain. It feels to be very severe owing to the pain but gradually with proper treatment, the pain vanishes on its own. A sprain or strain caused due to a road accident should not be taken lightly, it is recommended that you visit a chiropractor before it turns into a bigger problem.
Solution: Few hot or cold packs, gentle exercise, physical therapy, and some rest can help you to overcome the condition.
Vertebral Compression Fracture (VCFs)
About 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and 34 million have low bone mass, a vertebral compression fracture is a common type of fracture in osteoporosis patients. Over 40% of women aged 80 or more are affected by osteoporosis. People who have sustained with VCFs are at risk to get it again. (1)
Solution: Continue physical therapy and exercises to strengthen the bones and stay active to prevent the condition from getting worse. Others include pain medications, limited physical activity, bracing the neck and back and bed rest.
These chronic pains can be dangerous if not treated on time. Don’t let your pain overpower you, the safest option is to seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist at a back and neck pain center. For acute back and neck pain, here you go:
The best way is restricting your activity and taking over-the-counter medications. Mostly, back pains are caused due to muscle strain, the pain reduces with time.
Try to put less pressure on your back. Doctors will suggest you restrict your activity and rest so that you allow your affected muscle to relax. If you are on any other chronic medication, do take proper advice from your doctor.
The most useful and widely used treatment is applying ice and heat packs that help to alleviate muscle and ligament strain. Ice reduces swelling and inflammation just for 48 hours, while a hot pack will increase blood flow to tissues and relax muscle spasms.
The power of over-the-counter medications
When the body is hurt, it releases a protective response characterized by inflammation, redness, swelling, pain, etc. Medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, are normally taken to effectively reduce inflammation and pain. These medications cannot be a solution to all pains, please don’t use it for more than a week under the recommendation of your doctor.
A quick massage
A gentle massage can stretch tight muscles and ligaments, giving you a soothing effect.
Limit your body movement
Researchers reveal that limiting your body movement is the best way to ease the pain, but don’t just continue doing so. Move your muscles and joints by doing simple exercises.
Make necessary adjustments
Maintaining the normal curvature of the spine is the key for faster recovery. While in pain, you make certain adjustments to perform daily activities. All you need to do is support the hollow of your back and a good body posture will help in recovering faster.
Time to warm up
After you have taken enough rest to ease your pain or muscle injury, it’s time to loosen it up and heal it before a new pain starts. Being active is the key to treating acute back and neck pain. Get into your comfortable sweatshirt and yoga pants before you start with some stretches:
Sit on a chair or an exercise ball with your back straight and feet placed at 900 from the floor. Let your hands relax and hang straight down. Slowly, lift your hands towards the knees, and then over the head like a clock.
Keep your elbows straight and don’t lift your shoulders. Try to hold the pose for 3 breaths and then raise your arms slowly. Watch this!
Sit on the chair with your legs upright and start by dangling your arms out towards the front and pull your elbows back to your ribcage and then place it towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and repeat it 10 times.
You can even perform it while leaning against the wall with your legs apart such that you are making a W shape with your torso and center line. Bring back your hands and wrists towards the wall to the sides of your shoulder. In this case, perform the exercise for at least once or three times a week.
Pose yourself on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and hands hanging towards the ground. Gradually, tilt your left side of the side towards the left shoulder as you hold your chair with the right hand. Try to stretch as much as you can and hold the posture for one deep breath. Change the sides and repeat it 10 times.
Over to you!
Although back and neck pain affects millions of people, it is normal to have such pains after a hectic work schedule where you are sitting in a specific posture for about 8-10 hours. If non-invasive treatments have not been helpful lately, you need to rush to a back and neck pain center.
At Physical Healthcare of Jacksonville, we focus on restoring body balance and activates the natural healing process of the body by practicing Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic. This includes safe and painless spinal correction by improving the atlas vertebrae, a bone that controls the arrangement of the spine. Visit us!