The neck is the upper part of the spine called the cervical spine. It’s supported by a system of muscles, nerves, joints, and much more. When a patient has neck pain, any one of these structures can cause either acute or chronic pain. Neck pain is often the result of an injury, but could also be caused by an underlying condition. Patients suffering from chronic neck pain should schedule an appointment with a Southwest Spine and Pain Center physician as soon as possible to rule out serious, possibly life-threatening diseases or injuries.
Neck pain can be extremely debilitating and cause loss of function, low range-of-motion, and chronic pain. Patient's may describe their pain as a type of soreness that lasts for long periods of time, or as a sudden and sharp electric shock-like pain. Chronic neck pain can cause referred pain that travels to the shoulders, arms, and fingers. It can also cause headaches. In some cases, neck pain may cause loss of balance or difficulty gripping objects.
Neck pain can be caused by acquired conditions including arthritis, degenerative disc disease, a bulging or herniated disc, strain from poor posture or from sitting incorrectly for hours at a time. The neck is also susceptible to whiplash injuries from vehicle accidents or traumatic blows to the back of the head.
Neck pain treatment widely depends on the underlying cause. Physicians may recommend conservative treatments at first, such as rest and ice. In some cases, neck bracing may be appropriate to help immobilize the neck and keep it still. However, if the patient continues to feel pain, a physician may recommend steroid injections or medications. Physical therapy may be suggested in addition to medication therapy, but it may also be used after surgical neck treatment to help the patient recover, especially after an injury. If surgery is needed, minimally invasive options may be available. If a musculoskeletal condition is causing neck pain, the patient may be eligible for regenerative medicine at our clinic.