What Should I Do if I Think I Have Degenerative Changes in the Spine?
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 physician and get clearance for any treatments you plan to try at home.
Initially, a period of rest may be helpful. Neck and back 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 neck and back pain as well, but check with a physician before starting any new exercise program.
Using ice packs or heating pads while resting your neck and back 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 physician
If you’re still experiencing pain after these preliminary steps, call your primary care physician. Your physician 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 causes of 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 surgeons perform minimally invasive procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from neck and back pain.