FAQ’s on Neck pain Treatment in Philadelphia

Neck pain occurs from an injury or chronic spinal condition. Fortunately, 50% of neck pain will resolve without treatment. However, many patients suffer with chronic neck pain and require pain management.

What are some common causes of neck pain?

The main causes of neck pain that lead to limited neck muscle movement, pain, and stiffness include:

  • Whiplash – This injury is also called cervical strain. When neck muscles and ligaments develop small tears and are strained from an accident, the patient feels severe neck pain with associated muscle spasms, headaches, and stiffness.
  • Cervical osteoarthritis – When wear and tear affect the joints of the upper spine, it is called cervical arthritis. The pain can be dull to sharp, and it may radiate to the shoulders.
  • Herniated disc – If an intervertebral disc slips out of line, it can lead to pressure on the spinal nerves of the cervical region.
  • Cervical stenosis – When degenerative changes affect the vertebrae of the cervical spine, it can cause narrowing of the spinal canal. This is known as cervical stenosis, which causes serious neck pain.

How is neck pain diagnosed?

Taking a medical history is the first step in diagnosing neck pain. This gives the doctor clues about what injuries, accidents, and condition you have, as well as what treatments you have tried. In addition, the doctor will perform computed tomography, x-ray, and/or magnetic resonance imaging scans to diagnose the problem.

Who is at risk for neck pain?

Neck pain is more common among people aged 50 years and older. In addition, certain activities strain the neck, such as slouching, sleeping in bad positions, injures, and car accidents.

What symptoms are often associated with neck pain?

A person with a cervical spine condition may have severe pain in the neck, feel a not on the back of the neck, experience stiffness, and get headaches. In addition, if there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, the patient may have pain that shoots down one arm, as well as weakness, tingling, and/or numbness of the arm. Anxiety, fatigue, and chronic depression are often associated with chronic pain.

How many people have neck pain?

Based on statistics, around 10% of people suffer with some type of neck pain. This form of chronic pain is more common among women, computer workers, and older people.

What treatments are used for neck pain?

Treatment of neck pain is dependent on the specific cause. Options of therapy include:

  • Physical therapy – The therapist works with the patient to provide pain relief options such as massage, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound therapy. In addition, therapy involves use of stretching and strengthening exercises, and learning techniques for proper lifting and posture.
  • Facet joint injection (FJI) – This procedure involves insertion of tiny needles into facet joints along the cervical spine using x-ray guidance. Once the needles are in position, the doctor injects a long-acting anesthetic into the joint spaces, and sometimes, a corticosteroid is used. In controlled studies, FJIs relieve neck pain in around 85% of participants.
  • Trigger point injection (TPI) – These injections are used for neck pain associated with painful muscle contractions known as trigger points. The doctor injects the areas with a long-acting numbing agent. Based on a recent clinical study, TPIs are 100% effective for pain relief.
  • Medications – If muscle spasms are the problem, the doctor will prescribe an anti-spasm agent, such as Baclofen or Robaxin. Severe pain is treated with short course of steroids (prednisone or dexamethasone), anti-inflammatory agents (ketoprofen and naproxen), and opioids.

Resources

Dhadwal, N, Hangan, MF, Dyo, FM, Zeman, R, & Li, J (2013). Tolerability and efficacy of long-term lidocaine trigger point injections in patients with chronic myofascial pain. International Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Hoy DG, Protani M, De, R, & Buchbinder R (2010). The epidemiology of neck pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheum, 24(6), 783-792.

Manchikanti L, Singh V, Falco FJ, Cash KM, & Fellows B (2008). Cervical medial branch blocks for chronic cervical facet joint pain: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial with one-year follow-up. Spine, 33(17):1813-20.