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Treatment and diagnosis neck and back pain

If you have neck or back pain, your doctor may order electro diagnostic tests to examine your nerves and muscles.

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If you have neck or back pain, your doctor may order electro diagnostic tests to examine your nerves and muscles. These tests can help your doctor detect neurological or muscle damage. However, in some cases, testing is not needed.

Physiotherapy, for its part, is a health profession that is based on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of those symptoms produced by a great variety of dysfunctions (acute or chronic), through the use of exercise, physical agents (heat, cold, water, electricity) and manual techniques. Physiotherapy seeks an optimal development of the functions produced by the systems of our body. A malfunction of these systems will influence the movement and functioning of the human body. Osteopathy is one of the treatment techniques available to physiotherapy.

Osteopathic techniques are classified within manual therapy, manual osteopathy is used for the treatment of multiple dysfunctions. Its objective is to restore the balance of the body and give movement to the tissues. Osteopathy is a discipline that is divided into three parts: structural, visceral and cranial osteopathy. At the MTS Physiotherapy clinic we adapt the treatments to each patient. For this reason, we usually combine osteopathic techniques with other types of manual therapy; in this way we can achieve optimal results in our patients.

When you might need a test.

Neck or back pain can cause numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the arm or leg. This is usually the result of a pinched or irritated nerve.

In most cases, these symptoms go away on their own, but if they are severe or continue for some time, you may need an electro diagnostic test. These tests can:

  • Help find the cause of your problem.
  • Show your doctor how bad the problem is.

Diagnosis

The doctor will collect your medical history and perform an exam. It will monitor muscle tenderness, numbness, and weakness, as well as how much you can move your head forward, backward, and side to side.

Imaging tests

Your doctor may order imaging tests to get a better look at what’s causing your neck pain. For example:

  • X-rays. X-rays can reveal points on the neck where bone spurs or other degenerative changes could be pinching the nerves or spinal cord.
  • Computed tomography (CT). CT scans combine X-ray images taken from different directions to create detailed cross-sectional views of structures inside the neck.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Magnetic resonance imaging uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of the bones and soft tissues, such as the spinal cord and the nerves that lead from it.

It is possible to find evidence with X-rays and MRIs of structural problems in the neck without having symptoms. Imaging studies are used as an adjunct to a thorough history check and physical examination to determine the cause of pain.

Other tests

  • Electromyography. If your doctor suspects that your neck pain could be related to a pinched nerve, they might suggest an electromyography. This test involves inserting fine needles through the skin into a muscle and performing tests to measure the speed of nerve conduction to determine if specific nerves are working properly.
  • Blood test. Sometimes blood tests can provide evidence of inflammatory disorders or infections that could be the cause or a major factor in neck pain.

Treatment

The most common types of mild to moderate neck pain usually respond well to self-care within two to three weeks. If  pain persists, your physician may advise other treatments.

Medicines

Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers than over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as muscle relaxants and tricycle antidepressants for pain relief.

Therapy

  • Physiotherapy. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to correct your posture, align your spine, and strengthen your neck, and may use heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and other measures to help relieve pain and prevent it from coming back.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Electrodes placed on the skin near painful areas release small electrical impulses that can relieve pain.
  • Traction. Traction uses weights, pulleys, or an inner tube to carefully stretch the neck. This therapy, under the supervision of a medical professional and physical therapist, can provide relief for some neck pain, especially pain related to nerve root irritation.
  • Short-term immobilization. A soft collar that supports the neck can help relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in the neck. However, if worn for more than three hours at a time or for more than one to two weeks, a collar could do more harm than good.
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