Neck pain is a common problem affecting millions of Americans every day. It can be extremely painful, making you miserable and unproductive. Neck pain can result from injuries like car or motorbike accidents, falling, neck arthritis, meningitis, whiplash, aging, cancer, mental stress, or poor posture.
If you are experiencing a shooting shoulder or arm pain, numbness, or loss of strength in your hands or arms, it is time to seek medical attention. At American Neurospine Institute, PLLC, our spinal disorders specialist Ripul Panchal, DO, is highly experienced in treating neck pain. Our clinic uses minimally invasive spinal procedures for exceptional results if surgery is required.
Read on to find out more about how we can improve your quality of life by fixing your neck pain.
Neck pain treatment depends on the cause and pain duration. A meticulous physical examination, and medical history, are done to analyze the cause of the pain. Additionally, the doctor may perform imaging tests to assist the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis, including:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Lumbar puncture (Spinal tap)
- Electromyography (muscle and nerve health check)
- Blood tests
The results enable the doctor to formulate a customized treatment plan that may involve non-surgical or surgical treatments.
If chronic pain persists for more than two weeks, seek medical attention. Pain relief can be found using one or combining the following therapies:
Over-the-counter medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen, and naproxen ease pain and inflammation and aid in healing. Topical NSAIDs like Voltaren Gel may be applied to the skin to relieve neck pain.
For persistent pain, the doctor may prescribe stronger medication like muscle relaxants, prescription-strength NSAIDs, or opioids on a short-term basis. It is important to take the medication as prescribed and report any undesirable side effects.
Epidural Steroid Injections
They may be administered when there is continuing pain at the back of the head, shoulder, neck, or arm. The doctor injects a corticosteroid injection into the small facet joints of the neck to relieve pain with the assistance of the X-ray department for precise positioning of the needle. The injection contains a steroid that minimizes inflammation and an anesthetic that temporarily blocks nerve signals transmitting pain messages to the brain.
Other injections may include trigger point injections, PRP (platelet-rich plasma), and radiofrequency ablations. Numbing medications may also be injected for pain relief. Discuss with your doctor the best intervention suitable for your needs first.
Depending on the condition and cause of neck pain, the following may be recommended with the assistance of a physical therapist:
- Physical therapy: Sessions teach you how to perform neck strengthening exercises and can correct alignment and posture. It may involve using electrical stimulation, ice, or heat to relieve pain. Physical therapy rehabilitates injuries or conditions that cause neck pain.
- Traction: This method uses pulleys, weights, or an air bladder to gently stretch the neck to relieve nerve root irritation and pain.
- Collars: Short-term immobilization involves using a soft collar to support the neck. It relieves pain by taking away pressure from neck structures.
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). A TENS machine is a small machine that relieves pain. Electrodes are placed around or near the painful areas to deliver low voltage electrical impulses that produce a pleasant tingling sensation.
- Spinal cord stimulation: Pain relief and discomfort is minimized and controlled by using the small spinal cord stimulation device. The device has customized treatment settings to manage and control chronic neck pain.
Surgery is rarely required for neck pain and is used as a last resort when nonsurgical treatments fail. It is performed for:
- Cervical spine stabilization
- Spinal cord decompression
- Nerve root decompression (damaged root removal)
- Neck pain Improvement
- Range of motion preservation in the neck
- Spine alignment improvement
Neck pain surgery is performed to remove a damaged disc in the cervical spine and decompress a nerve root by restoring the normal spacing within the vertebral level. The two most common surgeries include:
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF): It is the most common and involves the removal of a problematic disk in the cervical spine.
- Artificial Disk Replacement (ADR): It involves removing degenerated discs and replacing them with artificial parts.
If interested in alternative methods, consult your doctors first. The methods include:
- Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves needle insertion to specific body pressure points to relieve tension and pain.
- Chiropractic care is done by a licensed chiropractor to manipulate muscles and joints to relieve pain.
- Massages are performed by a licensed masseuse to loosen the neck and back muscles.
Resting, practicing good posture, neck exercises, applying ice packs and heating pads, and using special mattresses and pillows can minimize minor neck pain at home.
Contact us today American Neurospine Institute if you are experiencing neck pain.