The spinal column runs the length of the neck and back. It protects the spinal cord, maintains proper posture and enables the head, neck and trunk to move smoothly. To perform these functions, the spine must remain strong, mobile and responsive.
Poor posture is the main cause of neck and back pain. This places abnormal pressure on the joints and tissues of the spine. Over time, spinal disks can bulge and pinch nerves, causing pain in the back, arms and legs. Pain also can result from bone spurs in the spine, stenosis (narrowing of the vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord), arthritis and spinal deformities.
Answering the following questions will let you know whether you should seek treatment for your neck and back pain:
• Do you have neck or back pain that limits you in performing daily functional activities, such as dressing, bathing or grooming?
• Do you have neck or back pain that restricts you from performing any recreational activities, such as hiking or sports?
• Do you have neck or back pain that restricts you from performing any daily household activities, such as laundry, vacuuming or cleaning?
• Do you have pain at night that significantly interferes with your sleeping?
• Do you have pain, burning, shooting pains, aches, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs?
• Have you noticed weakness in your arms or legs?
• Have you noticed significant loss of balance or difficulty walking?
• Do you have a weakness in the foot or “foot drop”?
• Have you experienced loss of bowel or bladder control?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need a course of treatment that begins with an assessment. The Spine Care Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center offers free 15-minute appointments to assess your neck and back pain and provide treatment recommendations.
Following the assessment, treatment that is designed for your specific needs throughout the entire continuum of care will help ensure a better outcome. This treatment should advance gradually and could include physical therapy, pain management and alternative medicine. Surgery is usually the last resort, although impressive developments in spinal surgery have led to greatly improved outcomes.
The Spine Care Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center provides a comprehensive program designed to reduce your neck and back pain and restore you to a healthy, active lifestyle. The experienced team of experts assembled at NNMC uses pioneering techniques and technology to help you return to a fulfilling life.
I also offer a free monthly seminar on neck and back pain, which provides an overview of the anatomy of the spine, discusses the causes of spine problems and explains options for therapy and treatment. The seminars are held at NNMC from noon to 1 p.m., the fourth Monday of each month.
To schedule a free appointment or to attend the seminar, call 356-4960.
Please plan to take the first step and have your condition evaluated. Follow that by learning about your options for relief from neck and back pain. Continuing on this path can lead you back to positive and fruitful living.
Steven Hallan is the director of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at Northern Nevada Medical Center and has 15 years of experience as an outpatient physical therapist. He is a credentialed McKenzie therapist, specializing in disorders of the spine and peripheral joint problems. Hallan bases his treatment on a detailed dynamic evaluation of the spine or joint involved. Therapy includes manual techniques, stretches and exercise to resolve the problem plus educating the patient on preventing a recurrence of the injury. The Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Center is located on the Northern Nevada Medical Center campus in the Sparks Medical Office Building at 2385 E. Prater Way, Suite 301. To schedule an appointment, call 356-4960.