How Pain Can Be Your Advisor
Unexplained pain of any type can be an inconvenience and is certainly a nuisance. But there are instances where unexplained pain—especially if that pain is severe and/or chronic—can be downright scary. And here is the truth; severe pain is often trying to tell you about a health problem going on inside your body. Paying attention to pain’s warning signs is wise.
Is it a Spinal Issue?
It can be hard to know when to take spinal discomfort seriously because it’s something many people experience, especially as they get older. As a result, developing a management plan for back pain can be complex. We suggest seeking treatment when back pain has started to affect your quality of life. If you’re still unsure, consider seeing a doctor if your back pain is moderate to severe or lasts for two weeks or more.
Something many people don’t know: shooting or stabbing arm and leg pain can be a sign of a spinal issue. At Kalra Brain & Spine, we see many patients dealing with herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. These same patients often presented with neck, arm and even leg pain and had no idea their symptoms were related to their spine.
Let’s take a look at one common type of pain that can indicate spinal problems and the treatments we offer to address the underlying condition.
It’s a big word, alright, but it’s an important one to talk about because this type of pain is most often related to a spinal issue but it occurs in other parts of the body. In other words, it’s tricky and can throw you off the trail of finding (and addressing) the source of your pain.
Radiculopathy, commonly known as a pinched nerve, occurs when the nerve root in the neck or back becomes compressed. Symptoms include numbness, weakness, tingling or shooting pains into the arms, hands, glutes, legs or feet. The area that symptoms are experienced is directly related to the spinal level in the neck or back that the nerve is being compressed or pinched. However, it’s also possible that you don’t experience any symptoms or you may only have periodic flare-ups of symptoms.
What Causes Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy can be caused by a variety of conditions or injuries, including:
- A herniated disc compressing the nerve root
- Degenerative disc disease
- Bone spurs
- Tumors of the spine
- Osteoarthritis or spinal arthritis
- Spinal stenosis; a painful condition when the spinal canal narrows
- Compression fractures
- Spondylolisthesis, when a vertebra moves and rests on the vertebra below
Risk factors for developing radiculopathy include aging, excess weight, poor posture, improper lifting techniques and, in some cases, a family history of degenerative bone conditions.
You Don’t Have to Just Live With It!
In many cases, radiculopathy is treatable without surgery. Depending on the severity of your radiculopathy and other health conditions, Dr. Kalra may recommend certain non-surgical treatment modalities, including:
- Non-steroidal medications, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen
- Oral corticosteroids or injectable steroids
- Physical therapy
- Ice and heat application
In some cases, Dr. Kalra may recommend surgery to treat the cause of the nerve compression, such as repair of a herniated disc, widening of the spinal canal space, removing a bone spur or fusing the bones. But even if surgery is recommended for your particular situation, you’ll be happy to hear that back and neck surgery is much less invasive than in the past. Learn more about our surgical treatment options (including minimally invasive procedures) here.
At Kalra Brain & Spine, you’re in good hands. Dr. Kalra specializes in the most up-to-date evidence-based neurological care. He has helped countless people get out of pain and regain their lives. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described here or have unexplained pain (even if you’ve seen other doctors and still have not found relief), we’d love to meet with you to see if we can help. Schedule an appointment today.