When an individual experiences pain in and around the neck (or cervical region of the spine)—a fairly common problem that most people will have to deal with at some point in their lives—the pain can arise from a number of sources, including a mild injury such as a strain or sprain or from a more serious condition such as a ruptured disc that is affecting a nerve. Thankfully, no matter the reason for the pain, physicians have at their disposal many ways to provide the patient relief.

Likewise, back pain in the thoracic (upper back) or lumbar (lower back) regions is a fairly occurrence and one which physicians today are able to diagnosis and remedy. Today, a host of non-surgical options exist—from new medications to physical therapies and more—that work quickly and provide lasting relief. If surgery is necessary, techniques that are minimally invasive and require shorter recovery times are available.

When diagnosing the cause of any sort of back pain and recommending a course of treatment, a physician first conducts a simple interview to gauge how much pain the patient is experiencing; what remedies have already been sought for the pain; and whether or not the pain is interfering with normal activities and impacting a patient’s quality of life.

Typically, any course of treatment will begin with the simplest remedies, including specific exercises coupled with physical therapy, pain- and inflammation-relieving medications and lifestyle changes (such as weight loss). If a surgical procedure is required, physicians today have tools available to them that can actually monitor a patient while a surgery is being performed. This intraoperative monitoring will ensure that the patient’s nervous system is responding well to the operation and that no damage is being done or systems affected which may lead to additional problems in the post-operative and recovery stages.