If you experience discomfort that makes it feel like your back is “on fire,” you’re likely noticing unexplained sensations of extreme warmth. These burning sensations can be accompanied by pain, although this isn’t always the case. Here’s what you need to know about burning sensations related to your spine and what you can do about this type of discomfort.
Before discussing what steps to take if you feel like your back is on fire, let’s talk about why this might happen. In some cases, burning sensations are due to an actual burn that has damaged multiple layers of skin. Most of the time, spine-related burning sensations are associated with some type of nerve irritation or damage. Other possible reasons for intense warmth in or around the spine include:
• Soft tissue strains or sprains
• Damage due to age-related disc wear (degenerative disc disease)
• Nerve entrapment and/or compression
• Spinal cord injuries
• Spinal tumors or infections
• Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, certain neurological disorders, and other underlying health conditions
The first thing to do when your back feels like it’s on fire is to find out why you’re experiencing this symptom. This process will likely involve your doctor asking about your history with back pain and reviewing your overall medical history. Image scans and other tests may also be done to identify a suspected source or rule out certain possibilities. Be aware that not seeking treatment could result in permanent nerve damage.
The advice you’ll receive on what to do about burning sensations in your back will depend on the diagnosis your doctor makes. For instance, if the culprit is a damaged disc, you may be advised to try postural exercises and other forms of physical therapy to ease pressure on nerves. In some cases, surgery may be required, and it might involve innovative technology such as a coflex implant. Santa Monica patients should see an experienced spine specialist to get the best recommendations for treatment.
Medication is sometimes helpful, especially if inflammation is a factor. This is also the type of treatment likely to be recommended if soft tissue issues are contributing to your symptoms. Hot and cold treatments to ease nerve irritation caused by a strain or sprain could be helpful as well. Additional treatment options may include:
• Surgery to free a trapped or compressed nerve
• Chemotherapy or surgery to reduce or remove a spinal tumor
• Medication to treat an infection
• Therapeutic exercises and medication if sciatic nerve irritation is the reason for your burning sensations
• Separate treatment for underlying health issues contributing to the problem
See your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon if burning sensations get worse or don’t go away. Seek immediate medical attention if discomfort of this nature occurs after a serious injury. Do the same thing if burning sensations are accompanied by severe weakness in nearby limbs, bowel or bladder issues, or a high fever.
If you have discomfort in your back that feels like a burning sensation, call on the spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute. Our industry-leading physicians are pioneers in the use of innovative methods and cutting-edge technology to diagnose and alleviate neck and back pain. To schedule a consultation, call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757.