Usually, the word pain is used as a primary descriptor. We say “my back hurts” or “my head hurts” when we want to express a painful situation. In our office, we reach beyond the vague term of pain to help us better understand what might be happening. Pain signals can be interpreted by the brain as cramping or spasms, as a dull ache, throbbing, and even as burning. Burning sensations may not immediately be related to a potential back issue, but they should. Here, we discuss a few of the potential reasons this type of pain may occur.
The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body. It originates in the lumbar spine (low back), travels downward through the buttocks, legs, and feet. Of the various types of back pain, sciatica is hard to misinterpret. Symptoms typically include shooting pain and/or burning through the buttock on one side and down the back of one leg. Often, sciatica responds well to nonsurgical therapies including anti-inflammatory medication, stretching, and rest.
A lot of the pain that develops in the neck and back is caused by nerve compression. This is also referred to as a pinched nerve. Nerve compression may occur when one or more bones in the spine (vertebrae) shift out of alignment. Bones may also degrade with age, causing an arthritic condition and bone spurs. The space through which nerves leave the spine may also decrease if a disc, the cushioning between each set of vertebrae, becomes herniated. Arthritis and disc bulging can also contribute to spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal.
Nerve compression may be manageable with conservative modalities including activity modification, improved posture and body mechanics, medication, and physical therapy. If pain does not resolve with one or more of these approaches, surgery such as spinal fusion or laminectomy may be advisable.
If you’re experiencing ongoing, recurrent, or acute pain, schedule a consultation at Princeton Neurological Surgery. Patients of our Morristown, Bridgewater, and Hamilton offices receive care from one of the leading neurosurgeons in New Jersey. Dr. Lipani is a board-certified neurosurgery specialist who has completed fellowship training in the areas of both brain surgery and spine surgery. He is passionate about offering patients the most minimally invasive treatments to address their concerns.