Signs of a Problematic Spine — And What to Do About It

The spine is an integral part of the body that connects the different skeletal parts and keeps the body upright. Sometimes, however, just like other body parts, our spines develop problems. When this happens, it affects our health, and sometimes, back pain can cause absence from work and a need for medical treatment.

If lately, you have been feeling like you are developing spinal problems, you should continue reading. This article discusses the issue of problematic spines and what you can do to make them better.

Problematic Spine

The signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms that are associated with the back can either affect the lower spine or the upper part. The lower part of the spine is also known as the lumbar spine. This area is well structured and consists of joints, nerves, ligaments, interconnecting bones, and muscles that work to provide the body with strength, support, and flexibility.

This lower back is, therefore, susceptible to pain as a result of this complex structure that supports the upper body. There is a daily need for mobility, and the lower back helps in some movements such as rotation of the hips. The pain can come as a result of injury to different parts such as ligaments, joints, and nerves. The body initiates an inflammatory healing response, which translates as pain in this part of the back.

The cervical region and thoracic spine can also experience pain, but the thoracic spine is less susceptible to pain. The main symptom that manifests, in this case, is also pain. The pain that comes from these areas, however, does not spread to the legs and chest and it does, it is usually an indication that the problem at hand may need serious intervention such as surgery. Other symptoms to look out for include:

Ø  Lower back stiffness which restricts your range of movement

Ø  Muscle spasms

Ø  Inability to maintain a healthy posture

Ø  Pain that persists for over two weeks

Ø  Loss of motor function

Other signs and symptoms that may signal emergencies include:

Ø  Extreme and sharp back pain and pressure on the head, neck, and back

Ø  Loss of bladder and bowel control

Ø  Incoordination, paralysis, and weakness

Ø  Impaired breathing, especially when there has been an injury

Ø  Numbness and loss of sensation on the fingers, hands, and toes

What to Do

If the pain persists and does not improve after two weeks, it is advisable to go for diagnostic testing. Also, if the pain radiates to other body parts such as the chest wall, it may be an indication that there are more severe complications—for instance, undetected spinal injuries. As the tests are done, the experts will often resort to non-surgical means to treat the spine, especially if there is an improving clinical picture. If the symptoms do not improve, however, doctors pursue other diagnostic efforts. Some of the diagnostic tests that are undertaken include:

Ø  X-rays

Ø  MRI Scans

Ø  CT scan with 3D reconstruction

Ø  EMG/NCV neurophysiological testing

There is a range of treatment options that are tailored to meet the needs of the patient. They include:

1- Self-care

Self-care includes a range of essential remedies that can be undertaken from home. These are especially activities that can work on mild and acute pain in the spine. The individual can administer these methods, which include short periods of rest where you avoid strenuous activity. Professionals at suggest that you only rest for a few days because taking too many days can make it difficult to heal. Also, you can modify your activities such that you do not aggravate your pain. For instance, if you spend a lot of time sitting, you can set a timer that allows you to stand and do mild exercises after 15 minutes. 

Problematic Spine Self-care

You can also administer ice/heat therapy. Heat wraps help your muscles relax, which promotes healthy muscles. If the lower back feels inflamed, ice packs will reduce the swelling. Alternating heat and ice treatment can be useful when you are returning to activity. For instance, you can apply heat before exercising and ice after exercise. You can also take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin. All these are anti-inflammatory and will alleviate symptoms of back pain.

While these treatments do not need a doctor’s guidance, you should use them well. Remember that even OTCs carry possible side effects, so you can talk to your doctor if you are not sure.

2- Surgical and Non-Surgical Care

If self-care fails, then the underlying cause of the pain may be more profound and still needs to be addressed. Some non-surgical options include the use of physical therapy, the use of muscle relaxants, and the administration of narcotic pain medicine. A doctor can also prescribe back braces and epidural steroid shots.

If all these do not work, and the back does not get better after 6 to 12 weeks of non-surgical intervention, then surgical interventions come in. They include decompression surgeries, installation of a posterior motion device, and lumbar spinal fusion.

The signs of a problematic spine may vary depending on the degree of the problem. However, the first manifestation of back problems is usually pain. The treatment options available can be used depending on how severe the spinal problem is. Self-care and non-surgical methods can be used to treat back pains that last less than 12 weeks. Surgical solutions are used when the problem becomes chronic.

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