Back and neck pain are typically the result of a muscle strain or a soft tissue injury. While painful, they aren’t normally an indication of a serious medical condition.

There are circumstances where back and neck pain are symptoms of a serious problem, such as a herniated disc, scoliosis, spinal stenosis or spondolylosis. If your pain does not get better in 72 hours, you should consult a physician.

Low Back Pain

Low back pain is common among adults. The lower area of the spinal cord is made up of small bones that protect the spinal cord and nerves.

Causes

Some of the many causes of back pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Strain/sprain of muscles or ligaments
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Diagnosis

  • Physical exam, including the back, hips and legs
  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Bone scan
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Treatment

  • Short term bed rest for those with debilitating back pain
  • Medication, including pain relievers, OTC anti-inflammatory and cortisone shots
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery may be recommended in a few cases

Neck Pain

Repeated and chronic neck pain can result in degeneration of the cervical spine. Pain may range from mild to severe, but if it persists for six months or longer, consult a physician

Causes of neck pain

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Muscle strain
  • Mechanical neck pain
  • Pinched nerve
  • Poor posture
  • Prior spine surgery
  • Spinal stenosis

Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a physical exam and may recommend you see a specialist, such an orthopaedist or neurologist.

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Electromyography
  • Myelography

Treatment

  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • In a few cases, surgery may be needed depending on the cause of the pain