Degenerative changes in the spine are a natural part of life. Many times, these changes are not noticeable or painful. However, a sudden twist to grab something, a car accident, or a fall may aggravate an area in your spine that was previously pain-free. If you are experiencing pain, there are a few steps you can take to combat your discomfort. First, however, it’s best to consult with your doctor and get clearance for any treatments you plan to try at home.
Initially, a period of rest may be helpful. Back and neck pain often subsides within a few days to a few weeks with proper rest. Lie on your back on the floor to relieve pressure. Use pillows to elevate your knees, or rest your legs on the seat of a chair, bending your knees and hips. Be sure to walk around a few minutes each hour, even if you feel stiff, to avoid weakening your muscles. Exercises such as yoga have often helped relieve back and neck pain as well, but check with a doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Using ice packs or heating pads while resting your back and neck may also provide some relief. Degenerative changes in the spine, such as a bulging or herniated disc, can exert painful pressure on the nerve roots in the spine, causing inflammation. Ice, if used within the first 48 hours of the onset of pain, can help calm inflamed nerves and dull the pain. A warm bath or heating pads can loosen tight muscles. In addition, taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or pain reliever may ease symptoms. Also avoid lifting heavy objects, pay close attention to your posture, and take time to stretch during long periods of sitting.
Calling a Doctor
If you’re still suffering from pain after these preliminary steps, call your primary care physician. Your doctor will perform a full exam to determine the location of your pain, your flexibility, and the strength of your muscles. An MRI or CT scan may aid in pinpointing exactly where degenerative changes in the spine are taking place. He or she can also prescribe stronger medications if needed. A chiropractor, acupuncturist, or neurologist can provide alternative options to help diagnose and treat the reasons for your pain.
If Conservative Treatments Options Don’t Help
If you’ve exhausted conservative treatment options and continue to live with painful degenerative changes in the spine, contact Laser Spine Institute today to see if our minimally invasive procedures are right for you. Our orthopedic experts perform safe and effective endoscopic procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover their lives without back and neck pain.