Spinal Pain – how to tell what kind of a pain it is, so you can get the right medicines for relief!

The vertebral column is made up of 33 vertebral spinal bones stacked one on top of the other like carrom coins. Each vertebral bone is separated from the one above and below by a intervertebral disc which functions as a cushion or a shock absorber.

Each vertebra is made up of a body, pedicle, transverse process, articular process (facet) and spinous process.

The body of each vertebral bone is separated from its fellow above and below by the intervertebral disc in the front and the inferior articular process of the upper vertebra sits on the superior articular facets of the lower vertebra forming the Facet joints. The opening at the centre of the bone is called the Vertebral foramen through which the spinal cord passes. The spinal nerves exit sideways in between the vertebral bones.

The vertebrae are supported and kept in alignment by strong ligaments.

And the ligaments are covered by muscle which not only support the spine but also move and turn it.

There are 4 types of pain that you can feel around the spine – Radicular pain, muscle spasm pain, Facet joint arthritic pain and muscle inflammation (tear) pain.

1. Radicular pain – is pain that runs along the direction of the nerve that is touched/compressed by the degenerative process of the spine as indicated in the diagram below.

Sciatica is a type of Radicular pain that runs down the back of the leg upto the toe. It is described as sudden shooting and electric shock like!

Anti neuritic treatment along with a week’s bed rest will reduce this pain

2. Muscle spasm are a dull continuous and distressing kind of pain which stops you from bending down. The pain is diffuse and the exact location cannot be shown to others.

Muscle relaxants work very well to reduce this discomfort. A variety of different medications are available.

3. Facet joint pain is usually sudden sharp and localised to a small area in the back.

This pain responds very well to anti inflammatory pain killers.

4. Muscle tear pain usually happens from severe stress to the spine leading to a muscle tear. The pain is localised to one muscle which is swollen and tender (pain generated by local pressure)

Anti inflammatory pain killers will work very well to reduce pain. Trapezitis is the term used to describe pain and tenderness of the Trapezius muscle in the neck and shoulder area.

Ice pack for acute pain and Hot fomentation once the severity of pain reduces is helpful.

Spinal support from a neck collar and Lumbar corset can also be quite helpful.

If you develop a little insight into your pain, you may be able to help your doctor prescribe the correct medicine for you.

Finally, once the back pain reduces with medicines and physiotherapy, regular core and neck strengthening exercises are the only way to keep back pain from any cause from recurring.

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