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Back Pain

Back pain is a very common problem and affects many people at some point in lives. The good news is that in most cases it isn’t a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament. Being active and exercising won’t make back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help to get better.

Causes

Often back pain doesn’t have one simple cause but may be due to one or more of the following:

  • poor posture
  • lack of exercise resulting in stiffening of the spine and weak muscles
  • muscle strains or sprains.

Other rarer causes of back pain include:

  • bone problems such as a fracture – often linked to thinning of the bones, which is known as osteoporosis.
  • an infection
  • a tumour
  • inflammation, for example in the condition ankylosing spondylitis.

Treatment

Taking some painkillers, staying active and doing some specific exercises are generally the most helpful treatments for people with back pain. However, some people will need further medical treatment.

Knee Pain

Pain is a common knee problem that can originate in any of the bony structures compromising the knee joint (femur, tibia, fibula), the kneecap (patella), or the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage (meniscus) of the knee. Knee pain can be aggravated by physical activity, as well as obesity, affected by the surrounding muscles and their movements, and be triggered by other problems (such as a foot injury).

Knee pain can be divided into three major categories:

  • Acute injury: such as a broken bone, torn ligament, or meniscal tear
  • Medical conditions: rheumatoid arthritis osteoarthritis, infections
  • Chronic use/overuse conditions: osteoarthritis, chondromalacia, IT band syndrome, patellar syndromes, tendinitis, and bursitis.

Treatment

Treatments for knee pain are as varied as the conditions that can cause the pain.

  • Medications: Medications might be prescribed to treat an underlying medical condition or for pain relief.
  • Physical Therapy: Sometimes physical therapy sessions to strengthen the muscles around the knee will make it more stable and help guarantee the best mechanical movements. Working with a physical therapist can help avoid injuries or further worsening of an injury.
  • Injections: Injecting medications directly into your knee might help in certain situations. The two most common injections are corticosteroids and lubricants.
  • Surgery: Knee operations range from arthroscopic knee surgery to total knee replacement.

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture whether it's leaning over your computer or hunching over your workbench. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain. Rarely, neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Causes

Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, so it can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict motion. Neck pain causes include:

  • Muscle strains.Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone, often triggers muscle strains. Even minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain neck muscles.
  • Worn joints.Just like the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
  • Nerve compression.Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
  • Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injury, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.
  • Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer, can cause neck pain.

Treatment

  • Physical therapy.A physical therapist can teach you correct posture, alignment and neck-strengthening exercises, and can use heat, ice, electrical stimulation and other measures to help ease your pain and prevent a recurrence.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).Electrodes placed on your skin near the painful areas deliver tiny electrical impulses that may relieve pain.
  • Traction uses weights, pulleys or an air bladder to gently stretch your neck. This therapy, under supervision of a medical professional and physical therapist, may provide relief of some neck pain, especially pain related to nerve root irritation.
  • Short-term immobilization.A soft collar that supports your neck may help relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in your neck. However, if used for more than three hours at a time or for more than one to two weeks, a collar might do more harm than good.
  • Steroid injections.Your doctor might inject corticosteroid medications near the nerve roots, into the small facet joints in the bones of the cervical spine or into the muscles in your neck to help with pain. Numbing medications, such as lidocaine, also can be injected to relieve your neck pain.
  • Rarely needed for neck pain, surgery might be an option for relieving nerve root or spinal cord compression.