Back to Basics: Understanding Spine Pain and How To Find Relief

Updated on May 16, 2024

Your spine allows you to do everything from easily bending to properly standing. It also has the incredibly important duty of protecting the spinal cord. 

When you experience pain, particularly in your back, you want to find relief as quickly as possible. Let’s discuss some spine basics and steps you can take to ease any pain, whether it’s in the short- or long-term.

Spine Basics

The spine has three regions:

  1. The cervical spine is the neck region consisting of the C1 – C7 vertebrae. It supports the head and the accompanying range of motion. The cervical spine also protects the spinal cord and lets vertebral arteries carry blood to the brain.
  2. Next is the thoracic spine region at the middle of your back, which is made up of the T1 – T12 vertebrae. It supports movement, and the chest and abdomen. It protects the spinal cord and associated nerves and provides a point for the ribs to attach. 
  3. Finally is the lower back region, more formally known as the lumbar region. It consists of the L1 – L5 vertebrae. It helps control leg and truck movement while also protecting the spinal cord and nerves. 

The level of significance and prominent positioning of the spine means that spine pain could affect one or more other body parts. Effects can range from severe sharp pain to a burning feeling, depending on the patient’s particular situation and condition. (It is important to note that spine pain is different from muscular back pain.)

Finding Relief From Spine Pain

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when dealing with spine pain. You just want it gone as quickly as possible, and hopefully it never returns. Luckily, several options could offer some relief but talk to your doctor before trying new techniques.

See a Doctor

When experiencing spine pain, a doctor can be your best tool for combating it. They can do an examination and run tests to determine what the issue is. For example, one of the various tests is the EMG/NCS which looks for nerve conduction health and how healthy/well-connected to the nerves the muscles are. 

Additionally, they can give you explicit instructions to try and help decrease your pain sooner rather than later. They might typically start with at-home remedies, such as bed rest and/or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. If their recommendations don’t do the trick, they can move on to other options. 

Try To Rest

Depending on your situation, resting for a few days might be enough to relieve your spine pain. Taking it easy may be the last thing you want to do, especially if you are used to always being on the go. But if the result is that you feel better, it could be worth it. 

If your to-do list isn’t conducive to resting, enlist the help of one or more loved ones who could help with the literal heavy lifting. Careful when attempting full on-bed rest — too much heat 

Stay Active

Activity can be helpful in reducing back pain. In particular, some patients appreciate stretching and exercises that strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. 

Ask your healthcare provider about some exercises that might reduce back pain. For example, gentle exercises, such as walking or swimming, can aid in your efforts. 

Physical Therapy

If your spine pain is at a significantly elevated level, physical therapy may be a good idea. Your primary care doctor can recommend a physical therapist who is trained in assisting with your specific pain. However, as with the previously mentioned chiropractor, it’s essential to choose a skilled, reputable physical therapist with excellent client feedback. 

Surgery

Your doctor may suggest back surgery. If that is the case, learn as much as possible about the process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more informed you are, the better you may feel knowing the majority about what to expect.  

Not all procedures are in-patient surgical procedures. A few procedures that typically happen on an outpatient basis might include a spinal cord stimulator (SCS), radio frequency ablation, an epidural steroid injection, or more.

Take Over-the-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter medication from a pharmacy is typically not ideal as a long-term solution for spine pain. It is usually a short-term solution while a treatment plan is being established for what can help ease your pain in the long term. 

If the over-the-counter medication is not helping, speak to your primary care doctor about the possibility of prescription medication. Whichever type of medication you are prescribed, take it as directed for safety purposes and optimal results. 

Spine Pain and Getting Relief

Taking steps now to relieve your spine pain can decrease the chances of it worsening. If you are experiencing chronic pain, seeking advice and treatment from a reputable establishment, such as a Tulsa pain management clinic, can help you get the relief you need and aid with regaining your quality of life. 

Sources:

Cervical Spine | Cleveland Clinic

Thoracic Spine: What It Is, Function & Anatomy | Cleveland Clinic

Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain | WebMD

Lumbar Spine: What It Is, Anatomy & Disorders | Cervical Spine

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.