Back and Neck Pain

There are a number of contributors to spinal pain (back or neck pain). Typically, such pain is the result of mechanical problems, injuries, infections, tumors or acquired conditions and diseases. Listed here are a number of contributing or underlying causes that can contribute to pain in these areas:

  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Osteoporosis
  • Smoking
  • Joint-related issues
  • Ligament or muscle tears
  • Poor conditioning and poor muscle tone
  • Arthritis and bone spurs
  • Tumor
  • Infection
  • Overuse
  • Trauma with or without fracture
  • Obesity

Due to the wide range of underlying causes, it is recommended you visit a Spinal Orthopedic Specialist if your pain does not resolve quickly so effective diagnosis and treatment can be provided.

Neck and Back Stiffness

Neck and back stiffness can be very painful and physically limiting with associated deep soreness and decreased motion of the painful area. Headaches are frequently present especially when the neck is involved. Most neck and back stiffness lasts only a few days or perhaps a week. More prolonged symptoms may require additional evaluation. This type of prolonged problem may require therapy to more rapidly decrease the symptoms. Very prolonged problems could need evaluation with a study such as MRI. The more common contributors to stiffness are muscle and tendon sprains and strains from daily activities. The following activities can result in neck or back stiffness and the associated discomfort:

  • Poor sleeping positions that tend to strain a number of muscles and ligaments
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Poor posture
  • Excessive stress or anxiety with increased muscle tension
  • Prolonged overhead work can cause neck pain and stiffness
  • Use of computers with poor monitor position can cause pain in the neck and mid-back
  • School backpack use in students
  • Spinal Problems

The spine is made up of many small bones called vertebra, which help to protect the nerves. Ligaments and soft tissue hold the bones together to make the human spinal column. Discs are soft tissue structures located between each pair of bones and act to absorb the shock of activities and provide motion for the spine. The discs are similar to "jelly donuts" with a soft center and a tough outer covering. Nerves are located within the spinal canal and a pair of nerves leaves the canal at each spinal level. When the bone, ligaments, or disc becomes unhealthy or is injured, many spinal problems can result. The bone may develop spurs due to aging or injury and cause nerve pressure and narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis). The ligaments may become stretched due to the aging process or injury and result in instability (such as spondylolisthesis). Discs may become degenerative and painful, or the "jelly" may become displaced though the protective outer covering and cause nerve pressure (disc herniation). Any of these problems can result in back or neck pain, arm or leg pain, numbness in the arms or legs, or weakness in the arms or legs.