Tag Archives: pain

It’s a Pain in the Neck

Neck pain can be a nuisance at best and debilitating at worst. Here are two common culprits behind the pain:

neck pain

Strained or Pulled Muscles

Strained and pulled muscles are the same thing. You strain your muscles when you stretch your muscle or tendon too far, which causes tears in your muscle/tendon fibers. This is different from a sprain, which is what happens when you stretch ligaments too far (ligaments are the things that connect one bone to another bone). Strained muscles are fairly common; on the other hand, athletes and other active individuals are at the highest risk for getting sprains.

If your neck feels really stiff, or if you have a hard time moving or rotating your head, you might have a strained neck muscle. If you have a minor strain, you can try alleviating the pain by alternating with hot and cold compresses, which will help with healing and reducing inflammation. Over-the-counter meds might help with the pain, as well. If it’s a more serious strain, or if the pain lasts for longer than a couple of days, seriously consider seeing a doctor.

Pinched Nerve

There are two different causes of pinched nerves: herniated discs and degeneration.

To understand how a herniated disc can cause a pinched nerve, let’s first look at the anatomy of the spine. A spinal disc is the little “shock absorber” that sits between two vertebrae in the spine. It’s what allows your spine to move back and forth, side to side. There are two layers to a spinal disc: the outer layer (called the annulus fibrosus) and the inner layer (called the nucleus pulposus). The outer layer simply protects and contains the inner layer. When the outer portion is weak, sometimes the inner portion leaks out and presses against (or pinches) the nearby nerve. Chemicals released by the broken disc can also irritate the nerve, causing more pain.

Degenerative disc disease can cause bone spurs, which can pinch your nerves. Bone spurs are abnormal growths of the bone, and if the growths get large enough, they can rub on the nerve root or pinch it.

Pinched nerves are often painful (and sometimes, that’s your only symptom). It might be centralized to the area where the pinched nerve is, or it might radiate through other parts of your body. You might feel pins and needles or numbness.

Your treatment will depend on your body and the severity of the pinched nerve. You may need physical therapy or pain medications. A few people with herniated discs require surgery to fix the issue. Talk with your doctor about what options are best for you.

Since each patient is unique, don’t rely simply on the information you find on the web to give yourself a diagnosis. Schedule an appointment with a doctor who can help you figure out what’s causing your neck pain and what you can do to fix it. You can schedule an appointment with 360 Back and Spine by calling 682-223-1406 today!

Can Pain Management Injections Help Me?

At 360 Back and Spine Center, we now offer medical injections that can help with pain management. Check out what they’re for and how they work:

Lumbar (Lower Back) Epidural for Sciatica

Sciatica is the term used to describe pain that shoots down the back of your leg and into your foot or your calf muscle. The pain is usually triggered by certain positions, like sitting a particular way, or certain activities, like walking. A lumbar epidural can effectively and quickly provide pain relief. This is a short-term solution that can significantly help someone experiencing an episode of lower back/leg pain or someone trying to do rehabilitative exercises and stretching.

Facet Injections

There are two facet joints on each level of your vertebrae, and they’re positioned on opposite sides of the cartilage. Facet injections can help us with two aspects of pain: they help us determine which facet joint is the source of pain (based on whether the patient feels relief after numbing that specific facet joint), and then the injection helps alleviate the pain.

Medial Branch Blocks

Medial branch nerves connect to your facet joints and then carry pain signals to the brain. A medial branch block disrupts these pain signals, so they can also help us diagnose the source of pain and provide pain relief. Whereas a facet injection inserts the anesthetic into the joint itself, a medial branch block puts the medication just outside of the joint, right next to the medial branch nerves.

Rhizotomy

This procedure also relates to the facet joint. If the relief provided by a facet injection is only temporary, a rhizotomy injection could provide lasting relief. Similar to a medial branch block, the needle is placed outside of the joint instead of in it. Radio waves then disable the sensory nerve attached to the facet joint, stopping pain signals from reaching the brain.

Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Injections

You have two sacroiliac (SI) joints; these connect your sacrum to your hips. If you have joint inflammation or dysfunction in this area, it can be the source of a lot of pain. Like facet injections, SI joint injections help us determine where the pain is coming from and if SI joint dysfunction is the culprit.

Transforaminal Nerve Root Blocks

This injection is typically used when a specific nerve has been identified as the source of pain. The medication is then injected around that particular nerve root, relieving the pain.

Caudal Epidural Injection

This injection is generally meant to help with lower back pain. The medicine is injected into the lowest part of the spine and typically involves both an anesthetic (which blocks pain signals from going to the brain) and a steroid (which helps reduce irritation and inflammation).

Spinal Cord Stimulators

This is a method that’s been used for decades for a variety of conditions. Spinal cord stimulation involves sending mild electric pulses along the spinal cord. These electric pulses modify or stop pain messages from reaching the brain. This is a popular option for individuals with back pain that have tried surgery or other treatments, but weren’t able to find relief.

If you’ve been suffering from back, neck, joint, or leg pain, know that you have options. We understand that each person’s circumstances are unique. If you’d like to discuss the best treatment options for your situation, give us a call at 682-223-1406 to schedule an appointment.