Common and uncommon causes of long-term back pain can range from aching from spinal osteoarthritis to the stabbing pain of a ruptured disc. More concerning symptoms of back pain include numbness and tingling in the arms or legs. While some types of back pain resolve themselves within a few weeks, others take a longer time to fix, and need stronger treatment methods than home remedies and rest.
A Ruptured or Bulging Disc
You’ll notice a bulging disc in your back because the spinal disc involved will stick out more than the other vertebrae of the back. The spinal discs act like shock-absorbing cushions between the vertebrae. Damage occurs for many reasons, such as:
- Injury or trauma.
- Gaining weight.
- Repetitive strain or stress to the back, like sitting still for a long time at work or lifting heavy objects.
- Lifting heavy objects.
Eventually, if the bulging disc isn’t treated, it might tear, causing the inner content of the disc to be released. When this content gets released, it compresses the nerves in the spinal cord. This condition remains a ruptured or herniated disc. A ruptured disc causes a sharp pain that moves down the buttock, down one leg, or into the groin area. A ruptured disc in the neck causes pain, weakness, and numbness that can move into the arms. This condition treatment starts with injections and may require surgery in some cases.
Spinal and other types of osteoarthritis occur as a part of aging as a result of wear in the cartilage of the spine joints. You may hear your back cracking or popping as well as feel a throbbing pain upon moving. When the condition progresses, bony growths appear called bone spurs that cause similar symptoms as a ruptured disc. Overweight may cause a speeding of the development of spinal osteoarthritis due to extra weight causing stress on the spine. Treating arthritis and bone spurs with medication and injections can eliminate or relieve the pain, and weight loss relieves pressure on your spine joints. Bone spurs can also be removed surgically if necessary.
Stenosis means narrowing. So, spinal stenosis implies a narrowing of the spine. If the spinal canal becomes narrowed due to age or injury, it causes the nerves to become compressed, resulting in weakness, tingling, and numbness in the arms or legs. Another type of spine issue that causes pain is foraminal stenosis. This spinal issue remains caused by a narrowing of the opening of the bones in your spine and is a specific type of spinal stenosis. Your doctor will have images taken of your back for a better look at your situation. Then, you and your doctor may attempt to relieve your pain using non-surgical or surgical methods.
In non-surgical methods of spinal stenosis treatment, your doctor may assign you pain relievers that are over- the- counter or prescribed, or steroid injections to relieve swelling. You may be given physical therapy and exercises to do at home and at the therapist to strengthen your back and neck. Or you may be prescribed to have spinal surgery to treat your back or neck pain or numbness.
Spinal Surgeries for Spinal Stenosis
Several surgical procedures are available to treat spinal stenosis as:
- Laminectomy and Laminotomy. This surgery takes the back part of the lamina, which is a part of the vertebra and removes it. This removal decompresses spinal nerves, allowing them to work correctly. In some cases, the vertebra is grafted together with metal hardware to maintain or improve the strength of the spine.
- Laminoplasty. In this procedure, vertebrae in the neck are given a hinge on the lamina, opening the space in the spinal canal. Metal bridges have placed that bridge the gap in the open part of the spine.
Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgeries
Recently lasers used on back and neck surgeries have been developed to remove lamina and bone in the spine. These surgeries also reduce the need to do fusions in some cases.
Please consult your spine specialist for more information on the causes of your back pain and the best ways to sooth your long-lasting back pain. There is hope, and pain relief is possible – it’s all about knowing what’s best for your needs and taking things one step at a time.