Acute back or neck pain can be caused by a variety of things, but falling due to winter weather is a common cause this time of year. If you are experiencing back or neck pain that doesn’t go away, it’s a good idea to make an appoint with your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist. Some symptoms that you should pay attention to and make note of to talk to your physician about include:
- Check for neuro deficiencies – If your back is hurting, is the pain radiating down your leg? If it’s your neck, does the pain radiate down your arm? These could be a sign of a more serious issue.
- Heart disease – If you have a history of heart disease and you were engaging in strenuous activity, pain in your arm could be a sign of a heart attack and you should seek help immediately.
If the pain is mild, try to rest and recuperate at home first by following this plan:
- One day of bed rest
- Take anti-inflammatories
- Ice regularly – 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off
As the area starts to feel better, you can progress to a stretching and exercise plan. If you aren’t sure where to begin, a local physical therapist can help you develop one specifically for your needs. Eventually, you’ll want to develop an exercise plan because conditioning and strength will help you avoid injury in the future.
Proper body mechanics plays a huge role in preventing back or neck injury and pain:
- Lift items straight up and avoid twisting as you stand up
- Bend at the knee, not with your back
- Hold items close to the body
- Know your limits. If you need to strain to do it, you are more likely to hurt yourself.
If you do experience back or neck pain that persists for longer than two weeks or gets progressively worse, it’s time to visit an orthopedic specialist. The first line of treatment focuses on conservative treatment methods, such as cortisone injections and physical therapy. If conservative treatment methods fail to relieve the pain and an individual’s quality of life continues to decline, it’s time to discuss surgical options. Advancements in procedures continue to improve outcomes for back surgery and restoring patients’ quality of life.
Dr. Dahari Brooks is an orthopedic surgeon in Greensboro and a member of Cone Health medical staff. Dr. Brooks received his Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the University of Rochester and received his Doctor of Medicine from Cornell University Medical College. He completed his surgical internship and orthopedic residency at the University of Rochester and his spine fellowship at the State University of New York at Syracuse University. His training focused on degenerative conditions of the spine as well as spinal malignancy, trauma, and deformity.