Are you feeling a sharp pain, a dull ache, or stiffness in your back or neck? These are very common musculoskeletal issues, but they can have a negative impact on your quality of life. If left untreated, the pain can escalate into something worse. Understanding the potential causes, symptoms, and complications is critical to effectively treating your pain.

What Causes Pain in The Lower Back, Neck, and Thoracic Spine?

The pain you feel in these three areas can be the result of a number of conditions. In many cases, experiencing pain in the neck, lower back, and thoracic spine can be caused by muscle strain or sprains. Muscle strain is when there is an injury to a specific muscle or tendon. A muscle sprain occurs when the capsule of a joint or a ligament is injured. These are commonly caused by overuse, lifting extremely heavy objects, poor posture, and sudden movements. However, it is possible that your pain can be the result of a more serious issue.

These issues can include the following:

  • Degenerative disc disease – As time goes on, it is possible for a person’s spinal discs to degenerate. When spinal discs degenerate, it causes not only pain and discomfort but also decreased disc height, increased friction between the vertebrae, and cushion loss.
  • Herniated discs – Herniated discs occur when the soft tissue starts protruding from the outer layer of the spinal cord. As a result, this can irritate the nerves and cause you to feel pain and discomfort. 
  • Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, can occur in the spine. When osteoarthritis develops in the spine, it is common to experience pain, stiffness, and even a loss of mobility.
  • Scoliosis – Scoliosis is a condition when the spine becomes curved. This condition can become worse over time and cause symptoms, such as pain and discomfort.
  • Spinal stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal starts to narrow. This can put unnecessary pressure on both the nerves and the spinal cord, which can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in all three spinal regions.

The cause of spinal pain is different for everyone and will require a proper diagnosis.

How Is Spinal Pain Diagnosed?

Although spinal pain is common, the different types of causes can make it difficult to pinpoint the cause. However, there are various ways doctors can diagnose your pain. Before a definitive diagnosis can be made, the first step involves an assessment of your symptoms and medical history.

It is important to understand factors such as the onset, duration, and how the pain presents itself. Furthermore, you will also need to let the doctor know if you have been injured recently, have a certain medical condition, and your current lifestyle. This information can help the doctor better understand what the problem could be.

Once the initial assessment is done, one of the following tests may be performed:

  • A physical exam
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans
  • Electrodiagnostic testing, such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS)
  • Laboratory tests, such as blood work
  • A specialized assessment can include consulting with another medical professional.

How Can I Treat Spinal Pain?

Depending on the diagnosis of your spinal pain, you will be given different ways to treat it. In most cases, you can treat spinal pain by getting enough rest and modifying the activities of your daily routine. Your doctor may prescribe pain medications or muscle relaxants. Performing thoracic stretches and attending physical therapy sessions can help relieve spinal pain, strengthen your back muscles, and improve your flexibility. It is also possible to get epidural steroid injections, but it is important to know that this is not a permanent solution. These shots only aim to provide patients with temporary relief.

How Do I Choose The Right Doctor For My Spinal Pain?

When it comes to choosing the right doctor for treating back pain, you must research their credentials. It is important to check to see if the doctor is board-certified. Another factor to consider when choosing a doctor is their experience. The more experienced the doctor is, the better care you can receive.

Schedule an Appointment

Spinal pain, whether it is in the lumbar, cervical, or thoracic spine, can become severe if left untreated. If you are experiencing any pain, discomfort, or loss of mobility, the experienced team at the Freedom Spine & Pain Center is here to help. Contact us at 210-920-8945 to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers today.