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Treatments for spinal pain
Most spinal pain comes from back and neck injury. Your health care provider will follow a treatment program to help relieve your spinal pain.
There are three phases to treatment:
Most back and neck injuries fully heal in a few weeks — just like a sprained ankle. With a little time, you should be able to return to all your normal activities.
Causes of pain
In most cases, your health care provider will not be able to find the exact source of your pain.
This is true even if he or she knows about a specific event that caused it, such as a fall or a car accident. There are too many pain-sensitive parts in your spine to pinpoint a specific one.
Spinal pain is often not the result of a specific event. It is the end result of years of smaller injuries to your spine. These may include minor sprains and strains, poor posture, stress or working conditions.
Spinal pain can also be caused by a lack of physical activity. Studies indicate that people who have the strongest and most flexible spines suffer fewer injuries.
Your health care provider will give you an exam. Self-care activities he or she may recommend include:
Your health care provider's exam will find any "red flags" that may indicate serious conditions. These may include disc herniations, arthritis or tumors. You may need to have special imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT or MRI scans.
If your health care provider does not find a problem, then there is usually no reason to order imaging tests. The tests do not help with treatment.
Call your health care provider or urgent care right away if you have:
If you don't feel better after one to two weeks of self-care, call your health care provider to see if you need to go to Phase II.
Your health care provider may prescribe:
During visits you:
Phase II treatments relieve spinal pain for most people. If your pain is not relieved, your health care provider may refer you to Phase III.
If your pain is not relieved after six weeks of treatments, it is known as chronic pain (long-term). Your health care provider may refer you to a rehabilitation program to strengthen your spine.
Your health care provider will give you information about rehab.
How to keep spinal pain from returning
There are many steps you can take on your own:
Source: Allina Patient Education, Treatments for Spinal Pain, pain-accd-15016
Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts, including Philip Hoversten, MD, MPH
First Published: 03/05/2002
Last Reviewed: 11/15/2011