Back pain: finding the cause

If you have back pain, involving any part of the spine from the top of the neck to the tailbone, you know how it can interfere with your everyday activities. Pain can be caused by an injury, degenerative changes, or osteoporosis and can be triggered by actions as simple as bending, reaching or lifting something heavy. It can be a sudden pain or have a gradual onset.

Because the spine is complex, pain may be related to the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves that are involved. Pressure on the spinal nerves and spinal cord can also cause pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.

“In general, most patients experience back pain that is temporary and will heal with time, says Richard Gorman, D.O., a neurosurgeon with Kettering Physician Network’s Neurosurgery Inc. in Kettering. “The majority of low back pain is due to muscle strain and approximately 90 percent of patients will feel relief without the need for surgical intervention. A thorough exam is required in order to effectively treat the problem.”

A focused physical examination and detailed history of your symptoms are crucial to pinpoint the affected areas of your spine. The physical exam will evaluate your strength, sensation, range of motion, and reflexes. Medical imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and EMGs are used to diagnose structural reasons for the pain.

“Spending the necessary time to identify what causes neck and back pain is the first step. Once the problems are identified, both non-operative and operative treatment options can be presented as solutions,” says Nicolas Grisoni, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Soin Joint and Spine Center at Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek.

Non-operative treatments are usually recommended before considering spine surgery. These can include physical therapy, medications, exercise and stretching and spinal injections


Kettering Health Network is a faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare system that improves quality of life through healthcare and education. The Network has eight hospitals: Grandview, Kettering, Sycamore, Southview, Greene Memorial, Fort Hamilton, Kettering Behavioral Health and Soin. The network’s 10 emergency departments and four trauma centers make up one of the largest and most advanced networks of emergency care in the state of Ohio.

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