They can be mild or extreme, quick or constant, But no matter what back and neck pains are no picnic. Elana Norman's job doesn't require much heavy lifting, but it still can take it's toll.
"When when you are sitting all day long at a phone and computer your back gets tensed up!" Said Norman.
Over time that little bit of tension turned into excruciating pain.
"Yes it was terrible! The nerve pain down my, I had no feeling in my index finger I could hardly move my arm the pain was just awful." Said Norman.
Elana has what's called a herniated disc in her neck. Between each vertebrae is a disc that acts as a cushion when you move. Over time the disc can tear or bulge out and get pinched during movement, causing muscle spasms and pain. Because the nerves also branch out from the spine a pinched disc can cause severe nerve pain throughout the body, like it did in Elana's case.
"There was likely a lot of degenerative changes going on for quite some time and it finally got bad enough where the patient finally made just the wrong motion under just the right amount of load to have something like that happen." Said Dr. Dan Rasmussen, a pain management specialist at the Avera Medical Group Pierre Clinic.
To relieve the pain, Elana saw Dr. Rasmussen who employs a four step approach to treatment where lifestyle changes takes precedence over medication.
"The first category being what I call rehab which would be everything from physical therapy to chiropractic care to massage stretched to stretching. The second category would be medications, the third would be procedures or injections, and the fourth would be surgery." Said Dr. Rasmussen.
Many times proper alignment and physical therapy is enough to relieve nerve pain and tension. Following this four step method, many patients are able to avoid surgery. Dr. Rasmussen not only speaks from professional experience, he too has been the patient.
"I think that gives me a little bit more credibility where I can beat them to the punch almost and explain that to them yeah and then it kind of feels like this when you do that and then they know that I've felt that and I can convince them that I have done something and I've never had a surgery and I got that to go away too." Said Dr. Rasmussen.
Being able to offer first hand experience is one thing for Elana the biggest benefit was learning to control her pain on her own. It also helps calm nerves knowing she doesn't have to leave Pierre if her muscles start to spasm.
"I just know how to catch it now whereas I don't have the terrible muscle spasms and the pain so I just know when I need to come talk to Dr. Rasmussen to see what we need to do for a treatment plan." Said Dr. Rasmussen.
Elana says severe pain can easily get you depressed, just a few weeks ago she was unable to work now she's got quite a different feeling.
"It's wonderful, not having to feel that everyday." Said Norman.
The Avera Medical Group Clinic in Pierre will soon be expanding their services for pain management in the capitol city. This will offer patients a variety of treatment options beyond physical therapy and injections. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.