Unless you’ve had a car accident or another traumatic event resulting in severe bodily injury, you probably don’t think about your spine daily. It’s not like it hurts all the time. In fact, unless you have an injury or disease that impacts your spine, you probably can go for long periods without thinking about it. But is that really the case? Do we not feel our spines at all?
If you listen to the average person talk about their lower back pain, you might get the impression there isn’t much going on up there. Sure, some people will say they get a twinge now and again, but nobody seems to think their spine is sending them constant signals.
Even if you’re not in pain, your spine is constantly working to support you and keep your body moving correctly. The result is many minor nagging pains creeping up from time to time.
This feeling of tightness or stiffness is usually referred to as “spine inflammation” because it’s similar to what happens when you have an infection anywhere else in your body.
In this article, we will discuss what spine inflammation is and the different types of spine inflammation, including its causes and treatment.
What Is Spine Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or illness that helps the body heal by bringing in blood vessels, immune cells, and other substances to fight infection or repair damaged tissue. This process causes swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
In this case, spinal inflammation, also known as spondylitis, can be caused by injury or infection in your bone or spinal column structure and changes in pressure on your discs. Spinal inflammation can also be caused by spinal cord compression or repetitive movements (such as bending over to pick something up).
The inflammation triggers different chemical reactions, eventually making the pain disappear by repairing damaged soft tissues. But this process can also be quite uncomfortable until it resolves itself.
Signs and symptoms of spinal inflammation include:
- Sharp pain in the back or neck that gets worse with movement and improves with rest
- Stiffness in the upper or lower spine
- Tingling or numbness around the lumbar region
- Worsening posture
- Heat radiating from your back
Types of Inflammatory Spinal Conditions
There are several diseases and conditions that can cause inflammation in the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes neck and lower back stiffness. It can also cause inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (the joint at the base of your spine where it meets your pelvis), causing pain in your hip area.
AS typically affects young men between ages 15 and 30, but it can also affect women who have given birth before age 25. Common symptoms include:
- Stiffness in your neck or lower back that worsens over time
- Pain that gets worse when you’re standing or sitting for long periods
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Loss of appetite
This autoimmune disease causes inflammation in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is pain, which happens because the disease affects your joints and causes them to swell and stiffen. This can cause pain in the affected areas, including your spine.
In addition to acute low back pain, you may also experience stiffness or an aching sensation in your joints. You might notice that making certain movements is difficult, such as bending down or reaching up high.
Transverse Myelitis and Multiple Sclerosis
Transverse myelitis is a spinal cord inflammation that affects one side of the body in particular. It can cause weakness, numbness, and loss of movement in one or more limbs, as well as bladder or bowel problems.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the central nervous system, which controls bodily functions, including balance and muscle control. It causes inflammation in the body’s nerves, which leads to physical damage over time and even paralysis.
The most common symptom of multiple sclerosis is a pain in the back or limbs. Inflammation caused by multiple sclerosis can also lead to other complications, such as muscle spasms and stiffness, numbness, tingling sensations, and vision problems, including blurred or double vision.
Should I See a Doctor for Spine Inflammation?
If you think you have spine inflammation, you must see a doctor who can perform a complete physical examination and blood tests. If your tests show that you have spine inflammation, you may want to see a neurological surgeon or rheumatologist for further evaluation. These specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal and skin diseases and neurological disorders.
You should also speak with a pain management specialist if your symptoms worsen despite treatment and physical therapy. One standard treatment for chronic back low pain is epidural steroid injections; these injections can help reduce swelling around the lumbar spine.
For a speedy recovery, consider bed rest and avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks or until symptoms subside entirely. It would help if you tried taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), which can help relieve pain in the abdominal muscles.
Your healthcare provider may also ask you to make lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, consuming a nutritious diet rich in Vitamin D to keep a healthy weight, and maintaining good posture while working.
Get in Touch With Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, Dr. Daniel Possley
When it comes to chronic back pain and other conditions related to the spine, many people believe that it’s just something they have to live with as part of getting older – nothing more.
Unfortunately, not all backaches and sore muscles are as simple as they appear, and many people suffer from lingering back pain because of prolonged spine inflammation.
If you suspect you may be suffering from spine inflammation, it is important to see Dr. Daniel Possley as soon as possible. Inflammation in the spine can cause a host of problems, and if left untreated for too long, it could lead to serious health issues.
Call our office directly by filling out the contact form on our website, and someone will be in touch shortly.