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The spine is one of the human body’s most complex structures. The cervical, thoracic, and lumbar sections are made up of many bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, tendons, and cartilage, any of which could become injured or inflamed. An estimated 90% of Americans report experiencing back or neck pain at some point in their lives. This pain may be caused by a slipped or herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, erosion of the sacroiliac joint, spinal stenosis, a pinched nerve, accident, or injury.
Even poor posture, sitting for too long a period of time, or overuse of texting, may cause neck/upper back pain. The average head weighs about 10 pounds. When tilted downward 15 degrees, the force of your head on your cervical spine increases to about 25 pounds. The more tilt, the more weight; that can be up to as much as 60 pounds of force on your neck. Prolonged tilting downward creates excessive strain causing stress injury. Over a long period of time it may even lead to spinal misalignment, early onset of arthritis, disc compression, or nerve damage.
Treatment of neck or back pain begins with a thorough evaluation and medical history to determine the cause. Typical treatment may begin with conservative measures such as physical therapy, over-the-counter NSAID’s, and ice or heat on the affected area.
If conservative measures do not resolve a problem and control the discomfort, some conditions may be treated with minimally invasive surgery while others require a more traditional surgical approach combined with post-surgical physical therapy. Fortunately most neck and back complaints are resolved without surgical treatment.