Acute neck & back pain is not a particular type of pain but is based on how long it has lasted. The time frame considered for acute neck & back pain varies by injury type but is typically three weeks to three months. Generally, acute neck & back pain follows a course that is typical or expected for a particular type of injury. The pain is usually more severe initially and gradually goes away.
Acute pain related to the spine may arise in the back and/or legs and in the neck and/or arms. Sensations of aching, numbness, burning, or tingling may be felt.
The doctor will review your history and perform a physical exam. X-rays or other images are not usually indicated unless the pain has lasted at least four weeks.
Imaging may be done to rule out a fracture or other potentially more serious problems in certain situations. A more extensive evaluation will be performed if there are symptoms indicating nerve injuries, such as loss of bowel/bladder control or weakness in the extremities.
Treatment for most acute back/neck pain includes activity modification, education, physical therapy, and/or medication. It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you. Unless there is a neurologic reason (such as loss of bowel or bladder function for significant nerve or spinal cord compression), acute pain is generally not addressed surgically.