What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain is a common complaint in the U.S. It affects up to 71 percent of all adults, with women being more susceptible than men. If you aren’t suffering from chronic neck pain, which is defined as constant for at least six months, you probably can recover in one or two weeks with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The more common reasons for neck pain include:
- Muscle strains. You can strain your neck muscles by sitting for long hours hunched over a computer. Even things like reading in bed, grinding your teeth or sleeping in an awkward position can put stress on your neck muscles.
- Joint wear and tear. As you age, the bones, cartilage and discs in your cervical spine may start to wear down, and your vertebrae rub up against each other painfully. These degenerative, arthritic conditions cause bone spurs that limit your range in motion and cause pain every time you move.
- Spinal nerve compression. Cervical radiculopathy is a pinched nerve, either from a bone spur or damaged intervertebral disc.
- A herniated disc. A herniated disc in the cervical area describes a condition in which one of the discs in your neck has broken open, which can cause neck pain. Other types of damaged discs include a slipped or bulging disc or if you’re suffering from degenerative disc disease.
- A neck injury. A whiplash injury forces the sudden movement of your head, backward and then forward. It causes a soft tissue strain, resulting in pain. A compression injury is more often the result from direct trauma to your neck. A spinal cord injury by any cause can leave you paralyzed.
- Medical conditions and diseases. Other neck pain causes include: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, spondylosis, stenosis, kyphosis, meningitis, tumors and cancer.
Types of Neck Pain
Your neck has to perform a challenging task. It has to support your head, weighing around 10 to 11 pounds. It additionally needs to allow for mobility, such as rotating side to side, tilting your head forward, or bending it to one side. This is the most adaptable component of a person’s body.
Neck pains arise in a variety of forms. The cervical spine forms the basis for your neck. Your head is kept upright by a coordinated effort between four different sets of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Any pain associated with it might be sharp, dull, severe, or throbbing, and it could radiate to your shoulders or other parts of your body. Continuous or chronic pain can be debilitating.
How Do I Know if My Neck Pain Requires a Doctor Visit?
Neck pain is usually dull and achy, not sharp and severe. Your neck muscles and cervical spine — the bones and soft discs that provide flexibility and protection for your spinal cord — may stiffen from overuse. Sometimes, you’ll feel mild pain from a sudden twist or an awkward jerk. The pain you feel is often muscular and resolves itself with rest and ice or heat.
But your neck is the most flexible part of your spine, which makes it vulnerable to more serious injury and disease, such as arthritis. You may be having problems with your spine or spinal discs that require a NJ spine surgeon like Dr. Branko Skovrlj of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, spine surgery center in Edison, New Jersey.
When problems with neck pain emerge, there are many reasons for the pain. Ask your doctor what is the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain. Since neck pain may be accompanied by lower back pain, your spine specialist can determine a treatment for you only after a thorough examination of your neck, mid-back and lower back.
What Kind of Specialist Deals with Neck Pain?
You can start with your general practitioner or family doctor. You may get advice to rest, take over- the-counter pain medication and follow up with some physical therapy. But if none of those therapies work to ease your neck pain, you need better answers. If you’re in northern New Jersey of NYC, search for neck pain treatment near me, and you’ll find a Dr. Skovrlj in Edison, NJ.
Dr. Skovrlj often can diagnose your condition from a physical exam, a medical history and symptoms such as:
- Neck pain after a car accident or sports injury
- Neck pain that causes headaches or fevers
- A sharp pain in one arm
- Tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms and hands
- A loss of coordination in your arms or legs
- Leg weakness
- Neck pain isn’t responsive to over-the-counter medication and doesn’t improve after a week
If he needs to run additional tests to confirm his diagnosis, he has a lot of options at his fingertips. As the founder of NU-Spine, Dr. Skovrlj made sure the facility has state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. It’s only after he makes a definitive diagnosis that your treatment can begin.
What’s the Best Treatment for Neck Pain?
Depending on your diagnosis, your NJ spine specialist may first suggest non-surgical methods to ease your pain. If they’re successful, there’s no need to go any further. These conservative treatments include:
- Exercises targeting your neck and shoulders
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications such as muscle relaxers
- A low, firm pillow for sleeping
- Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and place pain relieving medication right where it’s needed
But for more serious ailments and injuries, the conservative treatments aren’t likely to have a lasting effect. When you’re ready for the best treatment for next pain, you have to undergo minimally invasive surgical procedures that include:
- Cervical disc replacement
- A discectomy or a microdiscectomy
- Spinal fusion or an advanced fusion technique like TLIF or XLIF
- A laminectomy or a minimally invasive laminectomy
- A corpectomy