What are the symptoms of back pain?

If you’ve experienced tingling in your hands, a shooting pain in one leg or a cramping sensation in your neck, then you might wonder if these symptoms indicate an underlying condition in your back. Back pain has an extremely wide range of causes and symptoms. Some of these symptoms indicate something more serious than only back pain. That’s why it’s important to take your pain and symptoms seriously.

Start by visiting your primary care doctor, who can give you more information about symptoms, causes and possible treatments for neck and back conditions. To properly diagnose your condition, your doctor will want details about the location, severity, frequency and onset of your symptoms, so be sure to describe them as accurately as possible. Read on to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for back pain.

Back pain symptom details

The location of your symptoms will help your doctor pinpoint the underlying cause of discomfort. You may experience spinal discomfort in any of the following regions:

  • Upper body — pain or tingling in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands or fingers could indicate cervical spinal nerve compression
  • Middle body — shooting or electric pain around your rib cage, kidneys, abdomen or chest could mean that you have a compressed nerve in the thoracic spine
  • Lower body — radiating pain or a pins and needles sensation that begins in your lumbar spine and travels through your hips, buttocks and down one leg could indicate sciatica, which is a term used to describe symptoms that result from compression of the sciatic nerve

Conservative back pain treatment options

Many people will find weeks or months of conservative treatments to be sufficient in managing their neck and back pain. These treatments should almost always be attempted before any type of surgery. Ask your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan with you, using nonsurgical treatments like:

  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Pain medication
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga or Pilates
  • Physical therapy
  • Behavior modification
  • Selective nerve root block

Minimally invasive back pain treatment options

Some patients may require a surgical alternative if conservative treatments do not offer any relief after several weeks or months. If a degenerative spine condition is causing your severe back pain and will not respond to conservative treatments, it may be beneficial to see if you are a potential candidate for the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures are performed by board-certified surgeons+ and offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

We offer a variety of minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that are performed in an outpatient setting. Using a small incision and muscle-sparing techniques, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find pain relief from degenerative spine conditions like a herniated disc, bulging disc, bone spurs and spinal stenosis. Contact our dedicated team today and request a no-cost MRI review* to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your chronic back pain.