Maybe you woke up with a stiff neck and the inability to turn your head. Maybe you felt something pop when you were gardening, or maybe you’ve just been finding yourself waking up in the morning with more and more back pain. One way or another, the experience of pain in the back is something that is shared by roughly 80% of all adults at some point in their life.
No matter what the specifics, if your discomfort has become so constant that it is interfering with doing your daily activities, or if pain is affecting your mood, then it’s become a quality of life issue and requires medical attention.
For many people, reaching this conclusion is only the beginning of the process. Once you’ve acknowledged that you have a problem, the next step is determining whether it is coming from your spine or from someplace else in your body – after all, sometimes pain felt in one part of the body actually originates from another area.
The best way to determine where your pain is originating is by understanding how the spine is structured, and what types of pain comes from the various sections of the spine. With that in mind, let’s review the spine’s components.
If you’ve ever looked at a skeleton, you know that the spine isn’t a single bone that runs the length of the back: instead, it is made up of small individual bones called vertebrae that essentially stack on top of one another. These bones are separated by spongy tissue called discs that act to cushion the bones and keep them from knocking into one another.
The top seven vertebrae in the column of spinal bones make up the cervical spine. They are the part of the spine that comprise the neck, connecting it to the rest of the spine and supporting the head. When this area experiences pain, it is often from a muscle or tendon in the region. Damage to the discs in this area is usually experienced as pain or tingling in the arms, hands or fingers.
The twelve discs that rest between the shoulders and he rib cage make up the thoracic spine. This area is less flexible and mobile, and its purpose is to provide stability to the upper back. The fact that this part of the spine doesn’t move means that it is less vulnerable to the same types of injuries as those in the upper and lower part of the spine.
Beneath the thoracic spine are the five large vertebrae that make up the lumbar spine. This part of the spine carries the weight of the torso and makes the lower body’s mobility a possibility.
This area is extremely vulnerable to problems and pain, and though the discomfort experienced in this area usually comes from strained muscles, they can also be attributed to spinal conditions including herniated discs, fractures, and spinal stenosis.
The best way to determine the source of your pain and whether you have a spinal issue is to make an appointment with our cervical and lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey. We will conduct a thorough physical examination with the goal of providing you with an accurate diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan designed to relieve your pain and return you to a much-improved quality of life.