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 Back Pain  Holistic-online.com

Neck and Back Pain

Both neck and back pain are caused by conditions that affect the spine. The spine is built from a series of bones called vertebrae, which are separated by disks of cartilage that keep the bones from grinding together. When a disk herniates, or "slips," a small bulge of cartilage pushes out from within the disk and can press against and pinch one of the nerves that extends out from between the vertebrae, or even press into one of the nerves that run down the center of the spinal column. This can cause local pain and inflammation but can also project pain along the length of the nerve as it branches out from the spinal column.

A herniated disk in the neck can cause shoulder pain, pain in the arm, and tingling or numbness in the fingers. The pain seems worse on awakening, after the neck has stiffened or twisted in sleep.

A herniated disk in the lumbar spine, or lower back, can cause back pain, tingling or numbness in the foot, or sciatica: a shooting pain that runs along the length of one of the nerves extending through the buttocks and down into the leg.

Whether in the neck or the back, the herniated disk can be extremely painful and debilitating and can prevent normal work and activity. Over time, pressure on a nerve can cause a state of chronic inflammation, which is difficult to treat. Parts of the body can go numb or lose all sensations.

Conventional Treatment for Neck and Back Pain (Herniated disk)

The standard treatments for this condition include anti-inflammatory medications, bed rest, traction, and microsurgery to remove the herniated portion of the disk.

In extreme conditions, the entire disk of cartilage is sometimes removed, and a 'splint' of bone from elsewhere in the body or from a donor bone is used to fuse the two vertebrae together so that they can't move and grind against each other.

Surgery is not always effective, however, and the problem persists in some people even after surgery.

Disk Herniation Does Not Always Means Pain

Disk abnormalities may not always be the cause of the pain. In one study, MRI scans were used to examine the spines of people with no back pain. Two thirds of them had spinal abnormalities, including herniated and degenerated disks. If these problems had been seen in someone with back pain, they probably would have led to surgery.

Next Topic: Gate Control Theory of Pain

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