In addition, the doctor may recommend that limiting activities, provide a referral to a pain management specialist or both. If these treatment options do not provide relief within a few weeks, it may be time to consider other diagnostic studies and possibly surgical evaluation. Spinal nerves that exit in the cervical region are directly involved in the function of the shoulders, arms, and hands, meaning that pinched nerves in this region will create symptoms in those locations. Typically, symptoms from a pinched nerve will only produce unilateral symptoms, symptoms that occur on one side of the body. Symptoms usually manifest as a sharp shooting or throbbing pain, numbness, tingling, or decreased sensation. Pain is experienced in the body part that the pinched nerve is involved in the function of.
Disc injury usually occurs suddenly after lifting something or twisting the back. Unlike a back strain, pain from a disc injury usually lasts for more than 72 hours. In contrast with popular wisdom, numerous studies have shown that bed rest beyond 2 to 3 days is not helpful. Exercise is an effective way to speed recovery and help strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. Doctors or physical therapists should provide a list of exercises to do at home. It is also important to learn lifting techniques and exercises to reduce worksite injuries.
Often, these sensitive imaging techniques reveal asymptomatic abnormalities in the lumbar spine that are not the cause of the patient’s pain. In one study, volunteers with no history of back pain were given MRIs and 90% of those over age 60 had degenerative disc disease. MRIs that show abnormalities in the lumbar region that cause no symptoms for the patient are not helpful. Seronegative spondyloarthropathies are a group of inflammatory diseases that begin at a young age, with gradual onset. Like other inflammatory joint diseases, they are associated with morning stiffness that gets better with exercise. Sometimes fusion of vertebrae in the cervical or lumbar regions of the spine occurs.
The pain caused by cervical spinal stenosis may be described as acute, episodic, occasional, or it may become chronic; it’s intensity can vary from mild to severe. Most low back pain is due to muscle strain and spasm and does not require surgery. To treat the pain, medications such as acetaminophen , nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents , gabapentin or pregabalin and opioids can be used. NSAIDs suppress inflammation, pain and fever by inhibiting certain inflammation-causing chemicals in the body. Acetaminophen reduces pain and fever, but does not inhibit inflammation.
Low back, nonradiating pain is commonly due to muscle strain and spasm. This nerve compression causes pain in the lower back radiating through the buttocks and down one leg to below the knee, often combined with localized areas of numbness. In the most extreme cases, the patient experiences weakness in addition to numbness and pain, which suggests the need for quick evaluation. Some try stretching or alternating heat and cold at the source of the discomfort.
The narrowing of foramina is known as foraminal stenosis, which is very similar to spinal stenosis that affects the spinal cord. The lower back—where most back pain occurs—includes the five vertebrae (referred to as L1-L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces neurologist expert witness between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column.
Your spine is made of many bones called vertebrae, and your spinal cord runs through a canal in the center of these bones. Nerve roots split from the cord and travel between the vertebrae into various areas of your body. When these nerve roots become pinched or damaged, the resulting symptoms are called radiculopathy.
Referred pain is caused by a muscle or joint problem in the spine or pelvis. This type of sciatic nerve pain is usually dull and achy, not usually giving off a sensation of pins and needles. Sciatica is a term used for any pain or symptom that causes numbness or sensation like tingling along the sciatic nerve. This means sciatic nerve pain isn’t a true diagnosis, but a description of the pain you are experiencing that can help doctors properly assess your pain to determine a source. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or injury to the nerves that transfer information between the brain and spinal cord from the skin, muscles and other parts of the body. A Neurologist can give you the most informed and trustworthy referral to a surgeon.
This type of nerve pain can radiate through the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet. In addition, a person should see their doctor for lower back pain if they also have numbness or tingling in the legs or feet that does not improve with rest and OTC medications. If the pain gets worse or does not resolve within a few weeks, the doctor will be able to recommend further tests or treatments.
Contact Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic to schedule an appointment with our board-certified neurologists in Northwest Arkansas. The spinal cord is part of the central nervous system which also includes the brain. The spinal cord starts at the brainstem and ends in the lower back at the first lumbar vertebrae . Nerves exit the spine from the spinal cord and provide sensory and motor functions to the entire body including the upper extremities (arms/hands/fingers) and lower extremities (legs/feet/toes). Nerve impulses allow your upper and lower extremities to function and sensory input is provided via these nerves which is perceived in the brain as pain, hot, cold, etc.