How to Decide if Your Back or Neck Pain Needs Medical Attention

For people who suffer from back pain, life can be especially challenging. Because the back and spine are responsible for so many mobility tasks, it is vital to ensure it gets the best care possible when an accident or injury occurs, or unexplained pain suddenly arises.

When To Seek Medical Attention

There is a significant difference between temporary back pain and aches caused by exertion, strain, or simply moving or sleeping wrong versus back pain, which is more serious and requires medical attention. Often back pain is caused by an unexpected injury. 

The most common injuries occur from car accidents, work injuries, sports injuries, and slips and falls. In these cases, it may be easier to identify the need for medical attention than when the pain is from exertion or is slowly progressive. 

Three of the primarily treated back ailments from injuries are back strains and sprains, whiplash, and spinal disc injuries. Treatments that are most common for ailments that arise from disorders and genetics include scoliosis and disc degeneration.

No matter what the initial cause for the pain is, there are a few telltale signs that back pain should be treated by a back and spine specialist in Phoenix or wherever you may live. These include:

  • Pain That Doesn’t Go Away
  • Increased Limitations With Mobility
  • Numbness of Limbs and Extremities
  • Pain Accompanied With Nausea
  • Significant Discomfort Standing, Walking, or Sitting
  • Inability To Work or Perform Tasks
  • The Need For Continuous Use Of NSAIDs To Control Pain

Knowing What Can Cause Back Pain Besides Injuries

Many people are surprised to learn that not all back pain occurs from an injury or over-exertion. Several other things can cause back pain on a level that requires treatment. Usually, back pain without a definable cause occurs from genetic disorders, improper posture, age, arthritis, calcium deficiencies, disease, and more. Additionally, old injuries left untreated can present as new back pain with expanded symptoms even years later.

Is Pain In The Neck Area Considered A Spinal Disorder?

Yes, the neck is considered a part of the spine. It is known as the cervical spine. Injuries to the neck are common in motor vehicle accidents and work-related injuries and are often correlated to whiplash. The cervical spine has muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones that can be injured similarly to the rest of the spine.

What Does A Back And Spine Specialist Do?

Medical professionals specializing in caring for the back and spine can diagnose and treat injuries and ailments to the muscles, tendons, bones, discs, and nerves in the spine and back. This includes a wide variety of ailments caused by accidents, sports injuries, genetic disorders, aging, and degeneration.

How Is A Diagnosis Made?

Patients who make an appointment with a medical professional specializing in back and spinal pain should expect their initial exam to last about 45 minutes. At the appointment, the doctor will go through a series of questions and tests to fully understand where the pain is and the possible causes. Once this is complete, the physician will often order x-rays and other possible diagnostics to better define the present ailment and rule out other possible causes before a complete treatment plan is made.

What Are The Treatment Plans For Back And Neck Injuries?

Treatment for back and neck injuries can vary depending on the cause. Treatment plans can include surgical intervention, physical therapy, prescription medicine, and trigger point injections depending on the cause of the pain. In most cases, physical therapy is ordered as a baseline treatment to see if the ailment can be resolved unless it is more severe and requires surgical intervention before physical therapy can begin. Many of today’s surgical procedures for the spine are minimally invasive, which helps reduce recovery time and pain.

What Does Physical Therapy Entail?

Physical therapy is often ordered after surgery but can be a first-line treatment for some conditions such as strains, sprains, sciatica, and whiplash. It is designed to reduce the symptoms in the acute phase of an injury or ailment. The first step in physical therapy is an examination and review of symptoms and physical limitations caused by the injury or ailment. The first few sessions are designed to help stabilize the patient’s conditions and bring relief through ultrasound, heat, ice, and gentle physical movements to help ease tension. Once the acute phase subsides, the primary goal of physical therapy is to help patients regain strength and have continuous tools to treat pain and discomfort at home.

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