9300 SE 91st Avenue, Suite 400, Happy Valley, OR 97086

Types of Pain – Back and Neck

Home » Patient Information » Types of Pain – Back and Neck

Low Back Pain

What Is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain?

Acute pain starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks. It is the most common type of back pain. Acute pain may be caused by things like falling, being tackled in football, or lifting something heavy. Chronic pain lasts for more than 3 months and is much less common than acute pain.

What Are the Causes of Back Pain?

There are many causes of back pain. Mechanical problems with the back itself can cause pain. Examples are:

  • Disc breakdown
  • Spasms
  • Tense muscles
  • Ruptured discs
  • Injuries from sprains, fractures, accidents, and falls can result in back pain

There are many causes of back pain. Mechanical problems with the back itself can cause pain. Examples are:

  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney Stones
  • Infections
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Kidney Stones
  • Infections
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Other possible causes of back pain are infections, tumors, or stress.

When Should I See a Doctor for Pain?

You should see a doctor if you have:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Severe pain that does not improve with rest
  • Pain after a fall or an injury

Or if you have pain plus any of these problems:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Weakness
  • Numbness in your legs
  • Fever
  • Weight loss when not on a diet

How Is Back Pain Diagnosed?

To diagnose back pain, your doctor will take your medical history and do a physical exam. Your doctor may order tests, such as:

  • X rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Blood tests

How Is Back Pain Treated?

Medical tests may not show the cause of your back pain. There may be surgical options, or Physical Therapy may help. There may be relief with time alone. Possible treatment options and treatment injections that might be beneficial, which your doctor may send you to us for include:

  • Epidural Steroid Injection
  • Facet Joint Steroid Injection
  • Nerve Root Block
  • Sacroiliac Joint Injection
  • Facet Radio Frequency Rhizotomy Procedure

For certain longstanding painful conditions spinal cord stimulation may be an option.

Neck Pain

Neck pain affects 10% of the population each year.

Whiplash from motor vehicle accidents is a common cause of neck pain.

The diagnosis of neck pain is determined by a medical history and physical examination, and may include radiological examinations.

What is neck pain?

Most episodes of neck pain are caused by mechanical disorders associated with gradual changes associated with aging, or with overuse of the neck or arms. About 10% of instances of neck pain are associated with systemic illnesses, such as polymyalgia rheumatica.

Muscle strains are usually related to sustained physical activity such as sitting at computer terminals for prolonged periods of time. Acute strain may occur after sleeping in an awkward position.

Osteoarthritis resulting from the narrowing of the intervertebral discs located between the vertebrae of the spine. The adjacent vertebrae grow spurs in response to the increasing pressure placed on them. The bony growths can cause localized pain in the neck or arm related to nerve compression.

Herniated intervertebral discs, which cause arm pain more frequently than neck pain. The pinching of a nerve in the neck can cause severe arm pain. Disc herniations can cause some loss of function of the nerve including loss of reflex, sensation or muscle strength and or pain.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes compression of the spinal cord. The narrowing is caused by disc bulging, bony spurs and thickening of spinal ligaments. The squeezing of the spinal cord may not cause neck pain in all cases but in severe cases associated with leg numbness, weakness and incontinence.

Whiplash, an acceleration-deceleration injury to the soft tissues of the neck, most commonly caused by rear-impact motor vehicle accidents. The pain and stiffness associated with these accidents generally develop 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

Systemic disorders that can lead to neck pain include ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, tumors and infections.

Who gets neck pain?

About 10% of the population has an episode of neck pain each year. Neck pain may occur slightly more frequently in women than in men.

How neck pain is treated?

Maintaining motion is an important component of therapy of neck pain.

While regular exercise should be discontinued until the neck pain is improved, movement of the neck is encouraged. Gradual movement in all planes of motion of the neck stretch muscles that may be excessively contracted.

Applying ice massages for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to a painful area within the first 48 hours of pain onset can help relieve pain as can heat, which relaxes the muscles. Heat should be applied for pains lasting greater than 48 hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) including aspirin are frequently adequate to control episodes of neck pain if you can take these.

Individuals with increased stress may have contracted neck muscles. Massage therapy has proven helpful for some with chronic muscular neck pain.

A small minority of neck pain patients, particularly those with arm pain or signs of spinal cord compression, require spinal injection therapy with steroid or spinal surgery.

How is neck pain treated?

Medical tests may or may not show the cause of your neck pain. There may be surgical options or options such as physical therapy. We offer injection and non-injection therapy to treat chronic neck pain. Your doctor may send you to us for injection therapy for diagnosis or treatment such as:

  • Cervical spinal nerve root steroid injection
  • Cervical epidural steroid injection
  • Facet steroid injection or medial branch blocks
  • Facet Radio Frequency Rhizotomy Procedure
  • Atlanto Occipital joint injection
  • Trigger point injections
back to the top