Acute vs. Chronic Spinal Pain

When it comes to spinal pain, it’s all about time. Acute pain comes on quickly, and usually is the result of a sprain, strain, pull, or inflammation. Chronic pain in your spine most often is the result a degenerative condition that causes a spinal nerve to become compressed.

Acute pain usually is temporary, but when it hits, it hits hard. Acute spinal pain might result from a rogue sneeze, an awkward or sudden motion, or pulled muscle. Acute injuries are the ones that have you sitting out of bowling or softball for a week or so or force you to bring a heating pad to work.

On the other hand, chronic spinal pain, which doctors define as pain lasting more than three months, doesn’t happen in a moment. Usually, it is a chronic, degenerative condition – one that gets worse with time – such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, sciatica, osteoporosis, a bulging or herniated disc, or bone spurs.

Treating That Aching Back

As it takes time for symptoms to occur, treatment options also are time-related. For acute spinal pain, expect a slow but steady recovery, staying off your feet for a while, taking anti-inflammatories, soaking in warm baths, getting a massage and taking that heating pad wherever you go. With time and vigilance, your acute pain will work its way out.

Chronic spinal pain presents quite a different story. Even with rest, medication, and heat, chronic spinal pain will usually get worse with time. Sure, anti-inflammatories and a soothing Epsom soak, even injections might temporarily lessen your symptoms, but won’t help with long-term recovery. In fact, such conservative treatments usually put off what is inevitable for many chronic conditions: medical intervention.

Not so long ago, someone suffering from chronic spine pain had two options: deal with the pain or get surgery. Today, myriad modern procedures are providing viable options to overcome chronic pain without going under the knife. For example, stem cell therapies, spinal cord stimulation, and various types of cutting-edge injections are viable alternatives to alleviate spinal pain. For those who prefer more traditional therapies, spinal manipulation and acupuncture may help.

Likewise, diagnostic tools such as the discogram have made it easier to pinpoint the location of the problem to ensure treatment is targeting the right place for the right reason.

Whether your spinal pain is acute or chronic, you’ll want to visit a doctor who specializes in disorders of the spine and treatments to alleviate spinal pain.

At Tarpon Orthopedics, we offer comprehensive, patient-centered care that counts. Our multidisciplinary team focuses on providing sophisticated yet conservative care to help you overcome debilitating spinal pain.  Call 9725961059 for an appointment at Tarpon Orthopedics in West Plano, North Plano, or Addison, Texas today!

Yenny Rojas

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