Overview

Neck and back pain are unfortunately very common in our society. In general, they are more common in sedentary individuals, especially those who work at a desk or computer station. Fortunately, the prognosis for patients with neck pain is excellent, as well over 90 percent of patients with neck and back pain improve with conservative (non-surgical) treatment.


Where Neck Pain Begins


Where Back Pain Begins

Diagnosis

There are many conditions that can cause neck and back pain. To formulate an appropriate diagnosis, it is important to take a thorough history, perform a physical exam and obtain imaging studies, such as X-rays and an MRI. Some diagnoses include:

Mechanical Conditions
  • Strain
  • Sprain
  • Annular Tear (disc tear)
  • Herniated Disc
Degenerative Conditions
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet Arthropathy (joint pain)
  • Spinal Stenosis
Inflammatory Conditions
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (chronic inflammatory arthritis)
Infectious Conditions
  • Discitis
  • Osteomyelitis
Traumatic Conditions
  • Fracture
  • Subluxation
  • Dislocation
Oncologic Conditions
  • Benign or Malignant Spine Tumor
  • Metastatic Spine Tumor
Congenital Conditions
  • Klippel-Feil syndrome
Idiopathic Conditions
  • Unknown causes
Psychogenic Conditions
  • Psychiatric disorders with manifestation of neck or back pain

Treatment Options

Treatments for neck or back pain, like those for many medical conditions, can be conservative (non-operative) or surgical. Conservative, noninvasive treatments are generally the first treatments recommended to patients since most conditions affecting the spine are self-limited and improve or completely resolve with these treatments. Spinal injections and surgical treatments are only considered if the diagnosis is amenable to surgery and non-operative treatments have failed. Rarely, some spinal conditions are more serious (myelopathy, severe stenosis, fractures, cancer, etc.) and require immediate surgical management.

Conservative Treatments
  • Rest or Activity Reduction
  • Medications
  • Topical (Ice packs, heat, ointments, etc.)
  • Orthotics (Back brace, corset, etc.)
  • Core Exercises
  • Massage
  • Physical Therapy
  • Modalities, including ultrasound, phonophoresis (ultrasound to apply drugs) and iontophoresis (a kind of electrical stimulation used to dminister medication)
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
  • Facet Joint Injections
  • Epidural Steroid Injections (Cervical) Watch Video (Lumbar) Watch Video
Surgical Treatments (Neck)
Surgical Treatments (Low Back)