NECK AND BACK PAIN
Neck pain may be the result of tension in the muscles that support your neck, also known as your cervical spine. However, if your pain becomes chronic and starts interfering with your quality of life, you may have an underlying health condition that needs medical attention.
Common causes of chronic neck pain include arthritis, infection, herniated disc, nerve compression or degenerative disc disease. You may also develop persistent neck pain due to an injury or trauma to the neck, often from participation in sports or auto accidents.
In many cases, back pain develops due to your everyday activities, such as heavy lifting or standing for long periods of time. Other common causes of chronic lower back pain include poor posture, herniated disc, muscle sprains, lack of exercise or nerve compression.
For some, chronic back pain results from an underlying disease, like osteoarthritis, that causes deterioration in your spinal vertebrae. You may also develop chronic lower back pain due to age-related changes in the spine, such as spinal stenosis. This condition causes your spine to narrow over time, putting increased pressure on surrounding nerves.
In addition to pain, underlying disease or injury can cause symptoms like burning, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, or recurrent headaches. If your nerves are under pressure from a damaged disc or another issue, pain can radiate from your neck down into your arms and hands. This can make it difficult to grasp objects or have full use of your hands and fingers.
DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
Degenerative Disc Disease is simply the wear and tear of the intervertebral disc most commonly acquired genetically or due to repeated microtrauma to the neck or back. Degenerative disc disease most often leads to a broad constellation of symptoms including back and neck pain, shooting pain down the arms and legs, leg heaviness, difficulty walking and impaired hand dexterity.
Adult degenerative scoliosis is a form of scoliosis where vertebral rotation pulls the spine laterally, causing it to deviate from its normal position into an S or C shaped curve. Degenerative scoliosis is often painful, and if the curve is severe enough, it can restrict lung expansion and compromise breathing.
Disc herniation, also known as a “ruptured” disc is a condition where the softer inner material of the intervertebral disc pushes through the tougher outer material into the spinal canal. Disc herniation can occur spontaneously or can be caused by a traumatic event. A disc herniation in and of itself can cause significant back pain which in most cases self-resolves after several weeks. However when the disc touches or pushes on the nerve, shooting pain down the legs (sciatica) or arms ensues, which can be debilitating and require specialized attention.
Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within the spinal column, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Some people with Spinal Stenosis may have no symptoms, while others may experience pain, tingling, and muscle weakness. Symptoms may worsen over time as Stenosis is usually caused by wear and tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis.
Compression fractures are “crush” fractures of the vertebral body causing it to lose its optimal height. Such injuries most commonly occur in the elderly due to weakened bones or osteoporosis. People with this injury often report sharp pain localized in the mid or low back especially with activity. The mainstay of treatment is non-surgical with medications to strengthen the bone, pain medications, and physical therapy. However, if this fails minimally invasive techniques may be used to help alleviate the symptoms.
Spinal metastases are lesions in the spine that have spread from a cancer originating elsewhere in the body. They can lead to compression fractures or spinal cord compression, resulting in neurological damage.
SACROILIAC JOINT DYSFUNCTION
People with SI Joint dysfunction can experience pain and impaired function of the lower back and legs. It is important to note that SI Joint pain symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions of the lumbar spine, pelvis, and hip, and you’ll need an SI Joint examination to properly diagnose the origin of the pain.
How is Pain Diagnosed?
To determine what might be causing your pain, we review your medical and family history and listen to your symptoms. We may ask questions about your activities and occupation to identify injuries that may be triggering pain. To diagnose a degenerative disease or other underlying medical issues, we may test your range of motion in your spine to identify areas of pain, swelling, or redness.
We may order imaging tests, like a CT scan or Xrays. If you’ve been undergoing treatments for chronic pain that aren’t working, Dr. Nkrumah can assess your overall health to determine if surgery is right for you. We’ll determine whether you’ll benefit in the long-term based on your condition.