Neck and Back Pain

The spinal column is a complex combination of bones, muscles, tissue and nerves that regulates movement throughout your body. If part of one piece isn’t working correctly, it can cause chronic neck and back pain — lasting 12 weeks or longer — as well as other problems.

You might notice differences in back pain after sitting at a desk all day versus doing yardwork. In both situations, your back hurts but in different ways. There’s also back pain that gets worse when you lie down and pain that gets better. Some neck pain comes on slowly, and other pain surprises you out of the blue when you turn your head the wrong way.

The Baptist Health neurology team is an excellent resource for all types of neck and back pain. We will support you in getting to the root of your pain and helping get you back to living, working and playing like you used to before the pain started.

What Causes Neck and Back Pain?

Both neck and back pain have a number of causes, often related to aging and/or poor posture, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Compressed or damaged nerves in the spine
  • Disc degeneration
  • Fracture or other injury
  • Herniated discs
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (cervical stenosis)

Rarely, neck and back pain is a sign of cancer or an infection such as meningitis.

Signs and Symptoms

In addition to pain, neurological (related to the nervous system) issues in your spinal column can cause facial pain or headaches.

One of the most common conditions that causes neck pain is cervical radiculopathy, or pinched nerves. In addition to neck pain, you could experience:

  • Arm pain
  • Difficulty balancing or walking
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm
  • Tingling in the fingers or hand
  • Weakness in the arms or legs

If you are experiencing extreme numbness and loss of bladder or bowel control, seek emergency medical treatment.

Most of the time, neck and back pain isn’t chronic and will improve on its own within a few days to a few weeks. If you’re experiencing pain that does not get better with over-the-counter medication within four weeks, see a physician.

If your doctor suspects the cause of your pain is due to a problem with the nervous system, a neurologist can help diagnose the issue using imaging and nerve conduction studies. Treatment options may include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy

If conservative treatments do not help over time, surgery may be needed. Baptist Health has board-certified neurological surgeons and orthopedic surgeons who will provide you with compassionate and highly skilled care. 

If you experience chronic neck or back pain, make an appointment with the Baptist Health neurology team.

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