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Evaluation and Treatment of the Neck & Back

The Neck

The bones and joints of the neck move frequently and support the weight of the head. Because the neck is less protected than the rest of the spine, it can be prone to injury and painful conditions that may restrict movement. In most cases, neck pain is temporary and responds to conservative treatment. However, for some people, neck pain and discomfort may be chronic and require medical intervention. Neck pain is often the result of abnormalities in neck muscles, ligaments, nerves, and the bones and disks of the spine. It is commonly caused by injury or excessive wear and tear. Neck pain is evaluated based on the severity of pain. Diagnostic tests may include X-rays, MRI and CT scans to confirm the cause of pain.

Treatment of neck pain varies, based on the specific cause and may include:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Neck exercises and stretching
  • Corticosteroid injections

Patients may benefit from temporarily wearing a soft collar around the neck to help relieve pressure. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to relieve nerve or spinal cord compression.

The Back

Back pain is commonly caused by injury to a muscle or a sprained ligament as a result of overactivity. Additional causes may include fractured vertebrae, sciatica, ruptured or herniated disk, arthritis, nerve injury or certain infections. To diagnose the cause of back pain, a physical examination is performed. In addition, X-rays or MRI scans are typically administered to identify the cause of the pain.

Treatment of back pain varies based on the specific cause and condition and may include rest, ice or heat, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, stretching and exercise, physical therapy and corticosteroid injections. If back pain persists and has not responded to conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. Surgical procedures are often necessary for treating a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, vertebral fractures, degenerative disk disease, and spondylolisthesis.