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Back Pain

What is the anatomy of the back?

In order to better understand back pain, it’s helpful to take a step back and take a look at this complex area of your body. At the heart of your back is your spine, which is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by 23 discs. Surrounding your spine is a host of support tissues, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

In addition to providing support, range of motion, and mobility for your body, your spine also serves as a conduit for your nervous system, which means there are plenty of sensitive nerve roots in your back.

What are the most common causes of back pain?

Given its role as the foundation of your entire musculoskeletal system and conduit for your nervous system, it’s little wonder that back pain is as prevalent as it is. The most common causes of back pain include:

  • Muscle strains
  • Pinched or compressed nerves, including sciatica
  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the wide range of issues that can lead to back pain. In many cases, these conditions are degenerative or progressive, while other problems are acute and result from an injury. Whatever the case, Western Orthopaedics, P.C., understands back pain and the steps necessary to bring you relief.

How is back pain treated?

The answer to this question depends upon the underlying cause of your back pain. Using the latest diagnostic tools, including advanced imaging, your spinal specialist determines what’s causing your back pain so that they can determine the appropriate treatment plan. 

To give you an idea of the various options, your doctor may turn to any of these effective treatments to bring you relief from your back pain:

  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Ultrasound-guided injections

In some cases, your spine specialist may recommend a surgical solution. There are many types of back surgery, including

  • Balloon kyphoplasty for compression fractures
  • Microdiscectomy 
  • Spinal fusion

Rest assured, the goal at Western Orthopaedics, P.C., is to relieve your back pain in the least invasive way possible, so your doctor exhausts more conservative treatments before turning to surgery.

For much-needed relief from your back pain, call Western Orthopaedics, P.C., or use the online scheduling tool to request a consultation.

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What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition in which your sciatic nerve is compressed, which can lead to radiating pain, numbness, and tingling. Your sciatic nerve is the largest in your body. It begins in your lower back and branches out to travel down either side of your buttocks and down the back of each of your legs.

In 90% of sciatica cases, the problem develops on the heels of a ruptured or bulging disc in your lumbar spine, which compresses or irritates the nerve roots that come together to create your sciatic nerve. In less common cases, stenosis (a narrowing of your spinal canal) may lead to sciatica, as well as bone spurs that develop along your spine.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatica is unique in that this condition causes symptoms that often radiate out of your lower back and down through your legs, usually just on one side.

This pain can extend down your buttock or travel as far as your calf and feet, depending upon the degree of the nerve impingement.

The pain may also come and go with certain movements, or it may present as a constant and dull ache.

In addition to the pain, you may experience radiating numbness and tingling that also travels down your leg.

In extreme cases, sciatica can affect bladder and bowel function.

How is sciatica treated?

Sciatica is usually an acute problem that Western Orthopaedics, P.C., treats with:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

Sciatica rarely requires surgery and most patients are able to find relief within a few weeks if they follow the instructions of their provider at Western Orthopaedics, P.C. To keep yourself comfortable while you heal, they recommend icing and heating the area on and off, and they provide you with gentle stretching exercises that can help decompress the nerve.

If your sciatica resists treatment or you display some of the more serious, and thankfully less common, symptoms like loss of balance or bladder and/or bowel control, your doctor may recommend a surgical solution that will relieve the pressure on your nerve.

For relief from your sciatica, call Western Orthopaedics, P.C., or request an appointment using the online scheduler.

Neck Pain

What causes neck pain?

Neck pain can come from any of the structures that make up your neck, which includes:

  • Cervical vertebrae
  • Spinal discs
  • Spinal cord
  • Ligaments Muscles
  • Tendons Nerves

Your neck is very flexible, which means it has a much more extensive range of movement than the rest of your spine. However, the increased flexibility and the effort of carrying the weight of your head does make your neck more vulnerable to damage.

There are three ways to damage the structures in your neck. You can injure yourself in an accident, for example, getting whiplash in a car crash. You can develop a degenerative disease like osteoarthritis that slowly causes tissue or bone deterioration. Or repeating the same movement over and over can cause a repetitive strain injury, which can cause both chronic pain and lead to an acute neck injury.

What conditions can give me neck pain?

There are certain diseases like meningitis that can cause neck pain, but these are thankfully uncommon. Neck pain is much more likely to be musculoskeletal.

Conditions that commonly cause neck pain include:

  • Ligament injuries
  • Spondylosis
  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Muscle strains
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve)

If you do injure your neck in an accident, you should avoid moving until the emergency services arrive because of the risk of permanent damage to your spine. If illness accompanies your neck pain, for example, fever, vomiting, or a rash, it may be a systemic disease that needs urgent attention.

How is neck pain treated?

The first step before treating your neck pain is to find the cause. Diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and diagnostic spinal injections, help your provider at Western Orthopaedics, P.C., to locate the source of the pain. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, your provider can create a treatment plan for you to relieve your discomfort and repair any tissue damage.

Potential neck pain treatments include:

  • Use of a soft collar
  • Pain relief medication
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Selective nerve root blocks
  • Facet joint injections
  • Regenerative medicine

In most cases, these non-surgical approaches result in relief of neck pain and a return of mobility. If they don’t, Western Orthopaedics, P.C., can carry out minimally invasive surgeries to treat neck pain. Possible procedures you might need for neck pain include cervical laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion, or artificial disc replacement.

Call Western Orthopaedics, P.C., today to find out more about the advanced neck pain treatments available, or request an appointment online.