Why is it So Difficult to Treat Back Pain?

Man with back painAccording to studies following reasons for doctor’s visits and missed days of work, spine pain clearly affects a lot of people. Seeing that the majority of days off requested relate to back or neck pain, it would seem reasonable to assume we would have a good system in place for finding and treating the cause of various spine problems. Reasonable, yes. Reality? No. Regardless of the advances we’ve made in diagnostic imaging and spine pain treatments, it remains difficult for many people to get the relief that they need. As difficult as spine pain may be to address, it isn’t impossible. Here, we discuss what can get in the way so you can avoid the common mistakes that are made when dealing with acute or chronic back or neck pain.

Daily Habits Perpetuate the Cycle

Spine problems very often relate to the movements and activities we do on a daily basis. For example, looking down at our phones or up at computer screens for several hours a day puts strain on the cervical spine. Poor posture while sitting at a desk can stress the mid-back. Improper body mechanics can strain the lower back. Spinal problems may also be exacerbated by a lack of daily physical movement that supports flexibility and strength, or by poor dietary habits. When back or neck pain persists, it is wise to look at your daily habits and consider how they may be keeping the pain cycle going.


The spinal structure is complex. There are multiple moving and working parts and problems with various parts can result in similar symptoms. Some spinal injuries may cause pain that feels like a muscle strain but is actually related to nerve compression or disc degeneration. When dealing with ongoing back or neck pain, it is wise to avoid making assumptions or looking up what your symptoms mean online. Know that there are multiple conditions that may cause the same symptoms. The best way to reach an accurate diagnosis for back or neck pain is to see a spinal specialist.

Misguided Treatments

If you think your pain is caused by one thing, such as a strained muscle, you may approach the problem in a certain way, like with heat or over-the-counter pain medication. If the problem causing your pain is really a degenerating spinal disc, your remedies will do very little to improve your condition. Many spine conditions that result in pain respond very well to active treatment. Examples of good treatment options include physical therapy, stretching, and exercise.

It Takes Work

Some people know what is causing their back or neck pain because they’ve seen a doctor. They may have received a treatment recommendation. The question then becomes, are they following their plan as directed? We get it. When your back or neck hurts, you may not feel like doing much besides staying in bed or relatively inactive. Without the work, though, the spine cannot improve. When a doctor prescribes physical therapy, it is important to attend every session and also to engage in the recommended stretches and exercise in between sessions.

There is hope for acute and chronic spine pain. If you want to discover what is causing your pain and how it can be addressed, we can help. Contact our NYC practice for advanced spinal care at 212-606-1004.

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