FORT WORTH, Texas, Aug. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 adults will have an attack of back pain at some point in their lives. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 80% of the time, simple back and neck pain can go away on its own with home remedies. However, the spine specialists at SpineCenterNetwork.com, a national network of independent spine centers, note that there may be thousands of Americans this summer who will self-diagnose themselves incorrectly — which could lead to a permanently numb hand or numb foot.
According to James Lynch, MD, a fellowship-trained spine surgeon at SpineNevada — one of the largest spine specialty centers in the nation — the most serious problem is that people don’t recognize the emergency symptoms of back and neck problems, which can lead to permanent nerve damage. "We recognize that people will self diagnose themselves, but they usually do it with the wrong information," Dr. Lynch explains. Spine Center Network provides the 5 most common mistakes in self diagnosis of back or neck problems:
Mistake #1. Pain is NOT a good indicator of when you need to go to the doctor.
"Unlike other health issues or joint problems, with back or neck issues pain may NOT be a good indicator of when you need to see a doctor," explains Dr. Lynch. "A simple back strain or spasm can cause excruciating pain that knocks you down to your knees. But a simple strain doesn’t require surgery. It can often resolve on its own with anti-inflammatories, home remedies and a day of rest."
Mistake #2. Waiting too long can cause numbness/weakness symptoms to become permanent.
Many people overlook the emergency symptoms of a numb hand or numb foot from a herniated disc. This symptom needs to be seen within a couple days or you risk permanent damage to the nerves on spinal cord. "A herniated disc that presses hard on a nerve root over several weeks can create a permanent crimp that may not be corrected with a surgery," Dr. Lynch explains. "That can cause that numb foot or numb hand to become permanent. Loss of bowel/bladder control is the worst emergency symptom and needs to be seen in 24 hours — in an emergency room if necessary — to prevent it from becoming permanent. Also any type of fall or trauma needs to be seen promptly to make sure no vertebrae are fractured." Patients can download a symptom chart for back and neck pain, and request a free 36-page Home Remedy Book on back pain, at SpineCenterNetwork.com.
Mistake #3. Using drugs to mask symptoms creates a bigger problem than your back pain.
A serious mistake people make with back or neck pain is with pills. "Pain pills or muscle relaxers only mask symptoms; they don’t change the strength or flexibility of the back or repair a herniated disc," explains Lee Moroz, MD, a specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Texas Spine & Scoliosis in Austin, Texas. "Worse, painkillers like opioids are quickly addictive, creating a bigger problem for you than your back injury. While anti-inflammatories can bridge you to therapy and relief of symptoms, other treatment options may ultimately be necessary."
Mistake #4. The wrong home remedies can be counter-productive.
A sore back is not like a sore knee. "With back pain, research has shown conclusively that bed rest beyond a day or so is actually bad for the back," adds Dr. Moroz. "Instead, some movement is good for a back strain, like specific stretches and a short 20-minute walk. Movement is like lubricant for the back and increases circulation for healing."
Mistake #5. Spine surgery should be your last treatment option, not first.
"Americans love a quick fix, a magic pill or magic surgery," adds Dr. Lynch. "It’s okay to use watchful waiting for a month or so for pain that radiates into an arm or leg. Spinal injections can also provide relief for many herniated discs. But if symptoms worsen, then spine surgery may be necessary. The person then needs to seek out a spine surgeon who does minimally invasive spine surgery through a tiny incision, enabling them to be home the same day."
SpineCenterNetwork.com is the only national listing of spine centers that combine the expertise of non-surgical spine specialists with spine surgeons and spine therapists. The spine centers emphasize patient education and non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery.