If you’ve been suffering from neck or back pain and have finally decided to seek medical help, you’ve made the right decision. Far too many people suffer in silence, hoping against hope that as time goes by their pain will disappear.
To prepare for your first appointment it is often helpful to do a bit of reading to understand different parts of your back, as well as some of the most common back problems that we diagnose. Though it is not at all necessary for you to learn this terminology, many people feel more comfortable when they have a better understanding of the terms that our lumbar spine physician may use.
The first thing you need to know is that the spine is made up of five distinct regions running from your neck to your bottom. Each region has its own characteristics, and in total they contain 33 vertebrae. The five regions of the spine are described below:
This is the section of your spine that starts at the base of your skull and makes up your neck. The top two vertebrae in the cervical spine facilitate your head’s movement.
The next section down is the thoracic region of the spine. It contains 12 vertebrae that get increasingly larger from the highest to the lowest. This part of the spine corresponds with the part of your back that is closest to and connects to your ribs. It provides stability.
This is the area of the spine that is most frequently injured. It is the lower back, and it gets hurt and strained when you lift heavy things or make sudden, wrenching movements.
This is the area below the lumbar spine. Its vertebrae are smaller.
This is the tailbone.
Back pain is extremely common, and is not always an indication of a spine injury. Many people experience soreness and stiffness that disappears after a few days. If your pain is new, it’s a good idea to treat it with over-the-counter medications and ice (or heat if a few days have already passed), as it may go away.
However, if your pain has lasted for more than a few weeks or if you are experiencing weakness, pain or numbness in your legs, it may be a sign of one of these conditions:
- Lumbar or cervical disc herniation – Damage to the discs between the vertebrae that provide cushioning. Pain is caused by pressure on the nerves.
- Spondylosis — Degeneration that comes from chemical changes in the bod’s tissue.
- Spondylolisthesis – Condition where a vertebra slips out of alignment in the spine
These and other conditions can lead to significant back pain and are not going to go away on their own. They need the attention of an experienced lumbar spine specialist who will be able to create a treatment plan that provides relief.
Contact our office today to set up a time to come in and discuss your situation.