30 Mar Neck Pain Basics from a Top Maryland Pain Center
Neck pain can result from many things including injuries, inflammation, and abnormalities. These problems can cause pain and stiffness, which may be short- or long-term. The neck is made up of vertebrae (irregular-shaped spinal bones) that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs (between each vertebra) absorb shock between the bones. These bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head, and allow for motion. If any structures are injured or strained, we experience neck pain.
How common is neck pain?
Around 2/3rds of people will have neck pain at some time during life. The prevalence for neck pain is highest during middle age. Around 20% of chiropractic referrals are related to neck pain.
Who is at risk for neck pain?
Most uncomplicated neck pain occurs due to neck strain, poor posture, occupational injuries, and sporting activities. For chronic neck pain, risk factors include whiplash injuries, a malignant condition, degenerative cervical spondylosis, and other mechanical injuries.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain can happen for a variety of reasons.
- Sleeping wrong
- Working at a desk for too long and not changing position.
- Jerking the neck the wrong way or too hard during exercise.
- Poor posture
- Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes pain or swelling of the joints.
- Bone spurs
- Osteoporosis, which weakens bones and can lead to small fractures.
- Spinal stenosis, which can be caused by long-term inflammation and arthritis.
- Spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck, which can narrow the space between the vertebrae and add stress to your joints.
- Accidents, which can cause herniated cervical disc (also known as a ruptured or slipped disc).
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
Neck pain can occur along with other symptoms. You should also see a doctor if you experience:
- Lump in your neck
- Swollen glands
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Severe neck pain without a cause
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction Tingling
- Pain that radiates down your arms or legs
- Inability to move your arms or hands
- Inability to touch your chin to your chest
How is neck pain diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and take your complete medical history. He will ask specific questions about your neck pain. Also, tell him about any over-the-counter medications or supplements that you are taking, as well as any accidents or injuries you have had recently or at all. He or she will also do a physical exam and order any necessary tests to evaluate the situation. Testing includes blood tests, CT scans, MRI’s, X-rays, and more.
How is neck pain diagnosed?
The doctor will treat your pain upon diagnosis. After results are in, you may be referred to a specialist unless he or she can treat it. Treatments may include:
- Pain medications
- Heat and Ice therapy
- Physical therapy
- Muscle relaxants
- Corticosteroid injections
- Neck collar
Some alternative methods have been used in treating neck pain.
- Electrical nerve stimulation
- Chiropractic adjustments
Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack, but it often presents with other symptoms of a heart attack, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Arm or jaw pain
If your neck hurts and you have other symptoms of heart attack, call an ambulance or go to the emergency room immediately.
For chronic neck pain, All Star Pain Management offers a top pain specialist who provides comprehensive nonoperative treatment. This includes options for medication management and/or interventional procedures, or a combination. Dr. Zamfirov is Double Board Certified and provides compassionate, caring treatment that is over 90% effective for helping patients avoid the need for potentially risky surgery.
Most insurance is accepted, call today!
Binder A (2005). What are the effects of treatments for uncomplicated neck pain without severe neurologic deficit? Am Fam Phys, 71(1), 117-118.