Upper Back Pain
Neck and Back Pain
Upper back and neck pain can stop you in your tracks, making it difficult to go about your typical day. The reasons behind this discomfort vary, but they all come down to how we hold ourselves while standing, moving, and — most important of all — sitting.
Your neck is made up of bones, called vertebrae, that are cushioned by shock absorbers, called discs. Your neck is held together by ligaments and muscles that support your head and enable motion. Your neck has nerves running through it that come out from your spinal cord and travel up to your head and down to your arms, chest and back. Some of these nerves send signals of pain, temperature, texture and vibration up to your brain, and other nerves send signals from your brain to move your arms, neck, hands and fingers.
Many people experience neck pain, soreness or stiffness from time to time due to poor posture or overuse. Sometimes neck pain can occur from a sports injury, a fall, or whiplash, and can be very serious. If your neck pain is from an injury or if it lasts more than a week, it is worth getting it evaluated by medical professionals.
Common Neck Injuries includes:
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Cervical disc degeneration
- Cervical stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal column that can irritate the nerve roots as they exit the vertebrae
- Cervical facet joint hypertrophy, or arthritis of the joints on the sides of the neck (called facet joints) can cause inflammation and irritation around the nerves that come out of the spine and travel over/through those tiny joints.
- Pinched nerves coming from the neck that can feel painful and even cause muscles to become imbalanced in function, leading to muscle fatigue and soreness.
- Trigeminal neuralgia
Occasionally, neck pain comes from conditions like abscesses, infection, cancer or other spinal or disc conditions outside our wheelhouse, and we may refer you to other specialists.
Sometimes we will ask for an MRI of your neck, to compare the images, but oftentimes the ultrasound can be a preferable diagnostic tool, both from a cost perspective and from what can be seen on ultrasound and then treated in live-time. A key benefit of a high-resolution ultrasound exam for neck pain is that the nerves in the neck can be visualized clearly, therefore they can be treated precisely, whether with fluid hydrodissection, peptides, vitamins or regenerative solutions.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work, and it adversely affects one’s mental health, correlating with feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness and depression.
The back, like the neck, is made up of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles all working together to provide strength, stability and flexibility to the body.
Common Back Injuries includes:
- Facet joint hypertrophy: arthritis of the joints on the sides of the neck — called facet joints — that cause inflammation and irritation around the nerves that come out of the spine and travel over/through those tiny joints.
- Degenerative disc disease
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, which is when there’s either too much or too little motion in the joint, or when it’s inflamed,
- Spinal stenosis, or narrowing narrowing of the spinal canal that can irritate the nerve roots
- Osteoarthritis, or inflammation and pain in the spine from wear and tear throughout the aging process
- Trauma, like a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury
- Compression fracture
As with neck pain and spinal conditions in general, we will often ask for your MRI, if you’ve had one, to compare the images. In many cases, however, the ultrasound can be an alternate diagnostic option, both from a cost perspective, and from what can be seen on ultrasound in live-time.
The advantage of a live-time scan is that we can ask you to flex, extend and rotate your back as we visualize your low back joints and nerves, and then we can see where the issues may be. We can see if a joint looks loose, or if it appears to be rubbing together or against another nerve.
We can also ask you as we press on different areas of the back if the area is painful. There are often times when an image on X-ray or MRI may appear arthritic, for example, but it may not be where your pain is. In fact, many of us would have imperfect X-rays or MRIs, even if we didn’t have pain, but what really matters is addressing the problems that are causing your actual pain, not having a perfect image for the radiologist.
Lastly, after we thoroughly evaluate your low back, we sit you up and discuss in person what we can do to address your low back and help you to feel better.
A key benefit of a high-resolution ultrasound exam for back pain is that the majority of the nerves in the low back can be visualized clearly from where they come out of the spine and all the way down the hips, pelvis and legs.
Fine-tuned visualization of your low back anatomy enables your low back pain to be treated precisely. Oftentimes, after your treatments, we also instruct you on rehabilitation exercises to help you stabilize your back to avoid future injury and optimize healing.
We may also introduce you to physical therapists near you, or perhaps you are a patient of our in-house chiropractor Justin Wilcox, owner of Bayside Spine and Sport, and we can send you back to him for follow-up exercises to help you heal efficiently and get back to the life you love.
How can we help you?
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