Almost everyone experiences neck or back pain from time to time. Whether you overdid it during a work-out, have a flare-up from an old injury, got hurt at work or in a car accident, or have a chronic condition like arthritis, you probably have discomfort in your neck or back on an occasional or ongoing basis.
The good news is that you do not have to endure pain for the rest of your life. We have many different types of treatments for neck and back problems that can get you back on your feet and enjoying your life again.
Are Neck and Back Treatments Risky?
All medical procedures have some risk. We only use treatments that are approved for use and shown to be effective. We follow strict protocols to make every medical intervention as safe as possible and to minimize the risk to the patient.
The type of treatment we use depends on many factors, including:
The location of the condition. We use different therapies for stiffness and soreness in the neck following a car accident than we do for a herniated disc.
The cause of the pain. An acute injury, like a fall at work, will need a different approach than a chronic condition, like osteoarthritis.
The severity of the issue. One person might feel some tingling in the hands, while another person might have excruciating pain that prevents him from standing or walking. We use different treatments for these cases.
Unique aspects of the patient. A person’s medical history, including underlying medical conditions, previous injuries, and therapeutic limitations like drug allergies.
Our trained medical professionals gather this and additional information to design a unique treatment plan for each patient.
Treatments We Offer for Neck and Back Pain
We specialize in the treatment of pain to return the quality of life to our patients. As such, we offer a vast array of treatment methods. Some of our patients do best after receiving a combination of therapeutic interventions.
We do not practice “one-size-fits-all” medicine here. We create customized treatment plans for our patients and monitor their progress so that we can adjust the treatments as needed to maximize the benefit to the patient.
Neck and Thoracic Pain Treatments
A problem in the neck can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and ribcage. We can perform nerve blocks and various types of injections, depending on the source of the discomfort. For example:
Epidural steroid injections. Corticosteroid medications can provide relief from pain when injected into the neck near the inflamed nerve roots.
Injections at the facet joint. Corticosteroids or numbing agents like lidocaine can relieve pain when injected into the facet joints of the spine in the neck.
Medial branch nerve blocks can be an effective way to relieve persistent neck pain that involves problems with the cervical facet joints.
Radiofrequency ablation, also called radiofrequency neurotomy, can temporarily turn off the ability of specific nerves to send pain signals. The doctor inserts needles into the skin near the location of the pain. The needles target the irritated or damaged nerves and deliver radio waves to pause the pain messages. Some people experience reduced discomfort for months.
Intercostal nerve blocks can diminish pain in the rib cage area through the injection of steroids and a local anesthetic.
An individual patient’s situation might require the use of other therapeutic modalities.
Low Back Pain Treatments
An issue in the lower back can cause discomfort in the back as well as the buttocks, legs, and feet. Some lower back impairments can cause a person to lose bladder and bowel function. Our goal is to restore as much function as possible and take away the pain.
To do so, we can perform:
Steroid injections can help relieve discomfort and inflammation in the lower back, just as in the neck.
Facet joint injections. These steroid or numbing agent injections can effectively reduce pain and swelling.
Piriformis injections. The piriformis is a muscle that connects the pelvis to the sacrum at the base of the spine and to the greater trochanter at the top of the hip. When a person has sciatic nerve problems, the piriformis muscle can go into painful spasms. Injecting steroids into the piriformis can bring down the swelling of the muscle and the sciatic nerve. The injection can include numbing drugs to temporarily halt the muscle spasms. Piriformis injections can treat the immediate discomfort and help the doctor diagnose the source of the problem.
Trigger point injections involve injecting medication into painful “knots” in muscles, also called “trigger points.” These injections can alleviate muscle pain in the lower back, neck, legs, and arms.
Vertebral Augmentation Kyphoplasty. When a person has compression fractures of the vertebrae, the multiple small breaks in the spinal bones can cause the vertebrae to collapse or compress. The patient can experience pain and become hunched over, also called a kyphotic condition. The doctor inserts bone cement into the shattered bones with a hollow needle. When the bone cement hardens, it provides support to the spine, alleviating the patient’s pain and postural issues.
Thoracolumbar spinal cord stimulator trial and implantation. These medical devices reduce back pain by releasing low levels of electrical pulses directly to the spinal cord. There are two procedures involved: a trial and the permanent implantation. A spinal cord stimulator can allow a patient to take fewer drugs for pain and improve the quality of life.
Tailbone or Sacral Pain Treatments
Usually, pain from an issue with the tailbone or sacral region of the spine causes more localized discomfort. The discomfort can be in the lower back and buttocks areas. The patient can develop secondary pain on the side of the leg or hip because the tailbone/sacral pain leads to a change in how the patient walks, trying to avoid or minimize the pain.
We offer these treatments for tailbone/sacral pain:
S4/S5 nerve blocks. These nerve blocks involve injection steroid or other medication at the S4/S5 level of the spine; in other words, the fourth and fifth vertebrae of the sacral (S) region of the spine.
Sacroiliac joint injections. The sacroiliac joint joins the lower end of the spine to the pelvis.
Epidural steroid injections. We can perform these injections in much the same way as epidural steroid injections at higher locations in the neck or back.
Nerve Pain Treatments
When the nerves of the neck or back get irritated, compressed, or damaged, the patient can experience nerve pain. We provide these nerve block treatments for nerve pain:
Lumbar plexus nerve block. An injection at the lumbar plexus can relieve pain in the lower back and leg.
Ganglion impar nerve blocks can evaluate and treat ongoing pain caused by the ganglion impar (the collection of nerves near the tailbone).
Superior hypogastric plexus nerve block. The hypogastric plexus is a nerve bundle near the base of the spinal cord. A hypogastric plexus nerve block can reduce pain in the pelvis for patients with pelvic cancer, radiation damage, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or conditions that affect various organs in the abdominal cavity or pelvic region.
Splanchnic nerve blocks are injections to alleviate pain in the upper abdomen. The splanchnic nerves run down the sides of the spine and transmit messages of pain to the brain. Patients with chronic pancreatitis, cancer, or other painful conditions can benefit from this type of nerve block.
We can perform additional therapies and treatments for a person’s neck or back pain, depending on the needs of the patient.
Neck and Back Pain Conditions We Treat
We can treat nearly every possible type of neck or back pain condition. It is not possible to list every kind of neck or back pain here, but these are some examples of situations in which we can help:
Back pain – general, upper (cervical), middle (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar/sacral). Regardless of whether your back hurts high, low, or anywhere in-between, we have treatments that can relieve the discomfort.
Coccydynia – tailbone pain, also called coccygodnia. The tailbone is the bony area at the bottom of the spine. Many people injure the tailbone and end up with pain for years. Some of the common causes of tailbone pain include childbirth by vaginal delivery, degenerative joint conditions, falling in a sitting or lying position, and sitting for long periods on hard or narrow surfaces. It can be painful to stand, sit, engage in sexual activity, or have a bowel movement. Menstruation can be more painful with tailbone pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). As people age, the joints in their knees, hips, and spine begin to break down as a form of wear and tear. Arthritis in the spine can cause the cartilage, including the discs between the vertebrae, to deteriorate. Medical research does not yet have an answer for why some people develop arthritis of the spine, also called degenerative disc disease, and others do not, and why DDD is more severe in some patients than others. DDD is seldom static; in other words, the condition usually worsens with time.
Facet joint pain, also called facet arthritis, is a condition that affects the facet joints of the spine. A person has two facet joints on each vertebra (bone) of the spine, one on each side. The facet joints make the spine stable by limiting the range of motion of the spinal column. Facet joints also allow a person to turn or bend, to be flexible. When the cartilage on the ends of the facet joints succumbs to wear and tear and erodes, a person can grow bone spurs (osteophytes), and the joints in the back can enlarge. Both of those things can cause pain.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). When a patient has back surgery for the purpose of relieving spinal pain, but the operation does not achieve the desired result, the patient can get diagnosed with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. The diagnosis causes confusion, in that, FBSS is not actually a syndrome, it is a status. For example, post-partum means that someone had a baby. Post-partum is a status, not a condition. When back surgery for pain fails, the patient can face a long road to recovery, including additional surgery. We can help relieve FBSS pain.
Failed Neck Surgery Syndrome is similar to Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. The patient had surgery of the neck to relieve pain, but the operation failed to achieve that goal. In either situation, the procedure failure can refer to bone or tissue that does not heal correctly, failure of an implanted medical device, complications like scar tissue make the original problem worse, or the original problem returns after the operation. We have multiple interventions that can help patients with Failed Neck or Back Surgery Syndrome.
Herniated Disc. A person has many little bones running down the center of the back. These bones, called vertebrae, would crunch and scrape against each other if they did not have tissue between them to provide cushioning. The little round “pillows” between the vertebrae are discs. Spinal discs are a hard, rubbery exterior and a gooey filling, like a gel. If the disc gets pinched or compressed because of arthritis or an injury, some of the gel can leak out into the surrounding tissue. The gel irritates the nerve endings in the nearby tissue, causing pain.
Lumbar Post-Laminectomy Syndrome. Laminectomy is a delicate surgery in which the surgeon removes part of the bone (vertebrae) in your spine to relieve pain. When a person had intense pain from pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord, a laminectomy can open up a little more space inside the spinal column. For example, a bone spur on the spin can cause excruciating pain. A laminectomy can remove the bony overgrowth. Lumbar Post-Laminectomy Syndrome is when the surgery fails to relieve the pain.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. When the spaces inside the spine narrow because of osteoarthritis or other causes, the compressed space can “pinch” nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain. The symptoms can be in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. Lumbar spinal stenosis can be a reason for surgical intervention, but we have many additional options for this painful medical condition.
Neck Pain. Whether your neck pain is from a recent or old injury, ergonomic issues at work, arthritis, or an injury on the job, we have a variety of therapies that can provide relief.
Neuralgia – general, intercostal, and occipital. In general, neuralgia refers to a stabbing pain that can happen intermittently along the course of a nerve. Often, neuralgia is on the face or head. Occipital neuralgia, in which the patient has shooting or tingling pain on one side of the scalp, can be the result of a pinched nerve in the neck. Intercostal neuralgia involves pain between the ribs, sometimes from spinal arthritis.
Osteoarthritis. This common degenerative condition attacks the joints, causing swelling and pain and reducing mobility of the joints. Although the name osteoarthritis means arthritis of the bones, osteoarthritis does not directly damage the bones. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage of the joints. Cartilage at the ends of bones within a joint serve as “shock absorbers” for the impact of motion. Without cartilage, bones will scrape against each other. Eventually, the rubbing damages the bones and the joint.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain. The five spinal bones (vertebrae) at the base of the spine fuse together to form the sacrum. The sacroiliac joint connects the pelvis and the spine. The iliac are the two pelvic bones, sitting on either side of the sacrum. Osteoarthritis can wear away the cartilage within the joint, leading to sacroiliac pain. An injury can cause pain around the sacroiliac joint.
Sciatica. One of the most common causes of this painful condition is a slipped or herniated disc. Anything that compresses, pinches, or irritates a lower back nerve can lead to the development of sciatica. Although the cause is usually in or near the spine, the nerve pain can run from the buttocks down the back of the leg. In addition to pain, sciatica can cause the foot or leg to feel “asleep” or be weak. Sciatica pain can feel like a volt of electricity. Some people have constant sciatica pain. For others, the triggers can be sneezing, coughing, standing up, or having to sit or stand for a long time without a break.
Spondylosis. When bones, ligaments, cartilage, or discs in the neck or back develop wear and tear or get damaged from trauma, a person can develop spondylosis. Pain and stiffness are common symptoms of spondylosis. Slipped discs, pinched nerves, and bone spurs are some types of spondylosis.
Vertebral Compression Fractures. The bones in the neck or back (vertebrae) can break without a sudden trauma or accident. Over time, the vertebrae can weaken, thanks to arthritis and other causes, and become so weak that they fracture. Compression fractures of the spine can be quite painful. The patient can hunch over and look shorter than before the broken vertebrae.
People who seek effective treatments for pain can contact us at (888) 262-3864. The safety, health, and wellness of our patients are high priorities at WestCare Pain Clinic. It is our mission to help people live meaningful lives without pain.