Understanding Back and Neck Pain

ThedaCare - Understanding Back and Neck Pain

Most of us—80% of Americans—experience back or neck pain at some point in our lives. Whether your pain is mild or severe, our spine specialists can help you identify the problem and determine a treatment plan that will get you back to living a more comfortable, active life.
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Causes of Back and Neck Pain

Back and neck pain is caused by a variety of different factors. It can result from simply lifting a heavy box the wrong way, or from a traumatic event, such as a car accident.

Some common causes of back and neck pain include:

  • Nerve and muscular problems
  • Degenerative disc disease or a herniated (slipped or torn) disc
  • Injuries, such as sprains and fractures
  • Wear-and-tear, as a result of aging or physical activity
  • Spinal diseases, like scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and stenosis (compression and narrowing of the spinal cord in the neck or the spinal nerve roots in the lower back)
  • Discomfort due to other conditions, such as arthritis, pregnancy, and obesity.

Where Does It Hurt?

Whether it’s a dull, constant ache or sharp, shooting pains, back and neck pain comes in many forms. Identifying your specific symptoms will help you and your doctor determine the best treatment plan.

Back and neck pain is typically categorized into one of three different areas of the back and neck: cervical (neck and shoulders), thoracic (middle of the back), and lumbar (lower back). These symptoms may indicate that you should seek treatment:

  • Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine
  • Neck pain that radiates into your arms
  • Back pain that radiates into your legs
  • Inability to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in your lower back
  • Spine pain that is limiting your daily activities or ability to work
  • Spine pain associated with weight loss or fever
  • Spine pain that is not relieved in any position or with rest
  • Spine pain after trauma

Fortunately, the majority of back and neck pain will go away with conservative, non-surgical treatment within 4–7 weeks. Your primary care doctor or chiropractor can diagnose your problem and make sure you get the treatment you need, or connect you with one of our spine specialists or spine surgeons.

Our care providers understand how much of an impact spine pain can have on your life, from missing work to missing out on activities with family and friends. They’ll listen to your needs and work with you to create a treatment plan that puts you on the path to relief quickly.

Learn more about our spine care services