From an early age we are warned to look after our back as there are so many things that can go wrong with it. The spine can be fragile and serious damage can be catastrophic and in worst case scenarios can leave you in a great deal of pain or even paralyzed. There are many lesser injuries that are still going to be very painful and can place a limit on what you are able to do on a day to day basis. Local back doctors will be able to set you on the right road.
A herniated disc is an injury that many people suffer, and while there are ways to deal with it, it can be very painful. This happens when one of the discs in the back is squashed and splits open, allowing the disc fluid to work its way into the spinal canal. Most of the time, this happens purely because of wear and tear rather than something specific that you have done as a one-off incident. The head and neck are supported by the cervical spine and it is this that allows movement. It is the C2 and C3 vertebra that lets the head move from side to side. As this is a movement that happens a lot every day – especially when you are driving – the disc will begin to wear away.
Even though the incident occurs in the back the pain can be felt in many other parts of the body. It can reach out to the neck, arms and even the head. In extreme cases there is numbness in the face and this can be a frightening incident to contend with.
When this happens to you, you will need to search for doctors that specialize in neck pain. As your quality of life is going to be affected, it will be a search that has to be quick, and an appointment will need to be made as soon as possible. Some people ill try to start with pain killers and small home type cures, but this is not going to be enough.
If the pain lasts in the region of 12 weeks or more, it will be classed as chronic. Unfortunately, once you get back pain, you are likely to get long lasting pain within the following 12 months or so and will need to go to a chronic back pain clinic.
The First Appointment and Your Chronic Back Pain Treatment Options
When you first make your appointment, you will need to discuss everything that has happened and everything that you feel – what causes pain, and what gives relief. Armed with this knowledge, the doctor will be able to plan what they are going to do and will pass this information on to you. It is at this stage you need to ask questions and ensure that the doctor has all details of your medical history. You will be given all the options and once the decision has been made, you can start to arrange a treatment plan and begin to get your life back.
The first treatment to eradicate your spine pain will be a gentle one and will be aimed at reducing the pain rather than repairing the disc. A pain management doctor can use minimally invasive injections and procedures or recommend a chiropractor that will be able to help as they will gently manipulate the area bringing as much relief as possible. There is a chance that this treatment is not even going to take the edge off the pain and pain doctor will guide you and recommend if you will have to go onto a more serious treatment and this could involve surgery.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
Back surgery is always going to carry a risk, so the ideal procedure will be one that is at least minimally invasive. There does have to be an incision made, but usually it will not be any more than 1 inch across. As muscle sparing techniques are used, you will recover from surgery much more quickly than you would if it had been a fully invasive procedure that was undertaken. Open-neck surgery should still be taken seriously regardless of the fact that this way is a lot safer and less inconvenient. A doctor for back muscle pain will want to carry out the most straightforward treatments for several reasons. Firstly, this will be better for you the patient and secondly there will be less risk of something going wrong and them having to rectify it.
This surgery is called a discectomy and while it is taking place, the surgeon is going to take out part of the damaged disc. As it will be this that is pressing on the nerve, the removal will relieve the pain and help you move with ease again. The concern will be the state of the herniated disc. If it is in an advanced state of deterioration, then there will have to be further surgery to treat the damaged disc. This is going to be a more difficult surgery to undergo as the whole herniated disc will have to be removed. There will then be an implant put in its place so that the spine can be stabilized. Top rated pain management doctors will be at hand to make sure that you are comfortable and not taking any risks that could cause you more problems.
It is hard to say what the recovery time will be as everyone is different. We all have different pain thresholds and as some have a more positive attitude, they may recovery much more quickly. If you are working, you are bound to want to know how long it will be before you can return. The reality is that it will be impossible to say. There are a few reasons for this including: –
- Your pain threshold – regardless of the job, you need to feel that you will be able to cope once you return. Trying to do too much too soon is not going to help anyone and if you need time off again for the same issue, there may be repercussions that are going to involve HR.
- Your job – clearly a manual job will require more leave than a sedentary one. If there are concerns, you may need to go through an assessment so that your employer can be sure that it is safe to allow you back. There could be other forms of employment that are a problem, such as ones where you must move in a specific way and even sitting for long periods can bring discomfort.
- Healing – although it is minimally invasive, you still have to leave yourself time to completely heal. This will not only be for your own peace of mind and safety, but also because you may find that your insurance will not be as understanding when it comes to your claim the second time around. Spine pain management doctors will see you through this stage and ensure you are doing the right things.
What to Expect
If you are lucky and normally a good healer, you may find that you notice some improvement on the same day that you undergo the procedure. Many will need time away from work, but often it will be less than 3 months, which considering it is an operation on a delicate part of the body is good going. It is obvious that there is going to be some pain right after the operation, and you may even find swelling, but this is not a great cause for concern. You will need to make a few appointments for a check-up over the following weeks, and your doctor will be monitoring you carefully. They will be checking that the procedure has worked and that there is no sign of infection around the incision. Until you are given the all clear, you will be advised to be as immobile as possible and this will help you recover without any complications.
Even though some will feel good right after the surgery, not feeling fine is nothing to worry about. You may have a bad few days and then suddenly perk up, and unfortunately you may go the other way. If you are sensible and don’t set yourself targets that are impossible to meet, you will find that you can survive the recovery period. No two people will heal at the same pace and no two surgeries will be the same. As long as you follow the instructions that the doctor gives you then you will heal well in your own time.
Other Causes of Back Pain
Pain in the back can occur in any area and all occurrences can be debilitating. Nerves can become trapped and when this happens, the slightest movement can cause you pain. Often it is the nerves near to the sternum and ribs that are injured and when this happens the pain can be in a variety of other places including chest, arms and legs.
The upper and middle parts of the back seem to be a little less prone to injury and pain than the lower back and neck. The main reason for this is the lack of flexing in that area when compared to flexing at the top and bottom of the back.
Causes of Middle and Upper Back Pain
There are many reasons and the main ones are: –
- Poor posture – how you sit-down and stand is very important, and slouching is going to leave you in a lot of pain. If you suffer in work, check that you have the best chair possible as certain types will make the problem worse. Most firms will be aware of the need to provide the equipment that staff members need, and all have a duty of care.
- Overuse of muscles – this can bring about a strain and cause damage to discs and ligaments that are connected to the spine. Back muscle pain treatment will deal with this and before you know it, you can be well on the road to recovery
- Vertebrae fracture – this can be due to a fall or something coming into hard contact with the back. It should be dealt with as soon as possible as it could lead to more serious issues.
- Osteo-arthritis – this is when cartilage breaks down and there is nothing between the joints in the spine. This can happen anywhere on the body, but when it is in the back it is going to have more of a detrimental affect on your life.
- Myofascial issues – here the damage item will be muscle or connective tissue.
- More serious and harder to deal with causes could be cancer, gall bladder problems or an infection.
The symptoms for the above conditions are very similar and include a sensation of stiffening or tightening of the muscles as well as a variety of types of pain. The pain can be dull in some cases but is just as likely to be sharp and burning. If they are the aforementioned ones there is not too much of an issue, but it will be another matter altogether if they are numbness or weakness in the arms, legs, chest or stomach and any instances of the loss of bladder or bowel control.
Pain Management and Rehabilitation
You will be asked to run through your health history and describe your lifestyle in detail when you attend the appointment at a pain doctor NYC. A physical examination will take place, and this could include advanced tests such as an MRI scan and not just an x-ray. If it is a herniated disc or a fracture, then this will show up at this stage. A lot of the time symptoms can be managed with a mixture of exercise, over the counter medication, rotating between heat and ice packs, or arranging to have a massage. If this does not work, be prepared for prescription medication to be required. There are certain obvious things you can do at home to limit the pain, such as rest as often as you can, but not too long, as stiffness can be as much of an issue as the pain.