Neck and back pain may not let you move out of your bed and make it difficult for you to
carry out your daily grind. There can be many reasons for neck and back pain, but it all
comes down to how we keep ourselves while sitting, moving and standing.
Neck and back pain will definitely restrict your lifestyle and limit your capabilities. The pain
will get worse as time goes, spread and limit you further. Neck and back pain is common and
disabling. Associated with poor posture, sedentary work and stress it is long-lasting and
recurrent. Most of these pains are mechanical from the structural elements within the cervical
or lumbar spine and can be referred to a number of remote locations. A primary risk factor for
neck pain includes poor posture, such as slouching or looking down at a phone screen for long
periods of time. Additionally, neck pain and stiffness may result from poor support for the neck
during sleep, lifting overhead in labor-intensive work, and motions that put repetitive stress on the
neck muscles and joints. Whereas the leading risk factors for back pain are sitting for long hours in
poor posture, overweight, wrong lifting habits and poor biomechanics at play. Smoking (or any
nicotine intake), advanced age, and obesity are also risk factors for back pain.
In a few cases, the pain can lead to chronic injuries or illness and will definitely require a
doctor’s care. If the pain continues over a few weeks and more, it is chronic and you require
medical attention immediately.
Major Causes of Neck and Back Pain
Muscle Strain and Tension
One can put undue pressure on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks. This is caused due to poor posture, sitting in a particular position for too long, prolonged driving, lifting something heavy in the wrong manner, sleeping with your neck in a bad position, jerking your neck unnecessarily.
The neck and back are very vulnerable to all types of injury, car accidents, especially in falls, and sports, where the muscles and tissues are forced to move outside of their normal range which can also lead to dislocation. If the neck bones are fractured, the spinal cord may also be damaged.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Wear-and-tear on the lower spinal discs causes lumbar degenerative disc disease. These causes chronic, lower back pain that intermittently increases for a few weeks before getting back to normal. Cervical disc degeneration typically causes a low-level chronic neck pain and intermittent episodes of more severe pain and instability.
Cervical / Lumbar Disc Herniation
A disc becomes a herniated disc when the soft and gel-like interior of the disc leaks outwards or bulges, affecting muscles, nerve roots, or joints. A herniated disc typically causes cunning, stabbing pain at the backside of the legs, which comes more than the lower back pain and causes neurological pain in the shoulders and arms, as well as mild to moderate pain and stiffness in the neck.
Osteoarthritis in the spine causes excessive friction in the spinal joints, leading to neck or back pain and stiffness. Additionally, cervical osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs to develop, which may cause headaches at the base of the skull and nerve root pain in the shoulders, arms, or hands whereas bone spurs in lower back can irritate the sciatic nerve in the leg and cause symptoms down the leg.
Foraminal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the space where nerve roots exit the vertebrae, and may be caused by osteoarthritic bone spurs or a herniated disc. This condition typically causes pain, weakness, and numbness in the leg/ shoulder or arm, as well as possible neck or back pain.
Stenosis with Myelopathy
Narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck or lower back, (cervical or lumbar stenosis ) may lead to full-body neurological symptoms called myelopathy. Symptoms of myelopathy typically include reduced fine motor skills, difficulty walking without support (such as from a cane or walker), and numbness, weakness, and sharp pain in the legs/ shoulders, arms, and/or feet/hands.
Stress can also become a cause of neck and back pain when stress manifests physically, it starts to tighten the muscles, especially the muscles around our shoulders and our spine. The tension of the lower back muscles makes us experience pain and causes Tension Myositis Syndrome.
Prevention and Relief
If neck and back pain persists (become > 7 weeks old) one should consult a medical practitioner or a physiotherapist. There are a few steps that can be taken for relief when the problem arises, and some steps that can help in the prevention of such symptoms. One can read more about self prevention measures about Neck and Back Pain Treatment At Home.