Nearly everyone experiences neck pain at some point or another, but its severity and origins can be the factors that determine whether you actually need to seek medical treatment.
Our skilled team at Advanced Spine and Pain are experts in treating diverse conditions, including those that cause neck pain. We never take a “one-size-fits-all” approach; we know that quality treatment means that care is more customized and more likely to bring you lasting relief.
Neck pain causes range from “sleeping funny” to serious conditions
Who hasn’t awakened at some point, temporarily unable to move their head from side to side or back and forth without exclaiming, “Ouch?” Sleeping in a strange position can make your neck hurt for a few days, while a minor sports injury may require you to slow down for a couple weeks.
Far more serious neck pain can occur as a result of:
- A traumatic event, like a car accident
- Spinal narrowing due to spinal stenosis, which leads to nerve compression and pain
- Disc herniation, when a disc’s soft center breaks through its tougher exterior
- Osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition marked by fluid loss, progressive pain, and stiffness
- Degenerative disc disease due to wear and tear, injuries, and repetitive movement
- Cervical radiculopathy, when damaged, inflamed nerve roots cause pain, numbness
Each of these conditions may spell drawn-out, severe neck pain. The whiplash caused by a car accident can make it impossible to move your neck at all, while spinal stenosis can cause a “pins and needles” sensation in your extremities and balance problems in addition to neck pain.
The pain of a cervical herniated disc may radiate to your shoulder blade, arm, or even your fingers. A cervical pinched nerve (radiculopathy) may cause tingling and weakness in your extremities, and it may affect your bladder and bowel functioning.
What are the chances my neck pain will go away on its own?
Many neck pain issues resolve in a matter of days or weeks with rest, ice or heat treatment, and other conservative methods. You should be under a physician’s care if your neck pain:
- Was caused by an injury brought on by a car accident or other traumatic event
- Lasts longer than a few weeks
- Worsens over time
- Causes any bladder or bowel control problems
- Is accompanied by tingling or numbness
Skip scheduling a doctor’s appointment and go straight to the emergency room if you have neck pain with chills, fever, or a very bad headache. These symptoms could point to meningitis, a dangerous bacterial infection.
How can my neck pain be treated by my doctor?
By the time your neck pain is bad enough to require making an appointment at Advanced Spine and Pain, the first thing we do when we see you is examine you in our office, assess your range of movement, and possibly order some imaging tests.
Your treatment may include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications
- Physical therapy
- A pain-reducing cervical collar, a device that relieves pressure
- Highly targeted, long-lasting facet joint injections that contain both steroids and an anesthetic
- Radiofrequency ablation, which employs RF energy to shock your nerves
- Surgery, such as microdiscectomy, to remove disc tissue when necessary
Facet joint injections and radiofrequency ablation are minimally invasive, offer significant pain relief, and last for a period of several months and about a year, respectively.
If it’s time for you to get your neck pain addressed by a doctor, call the ASAP office most convenient to you — we have seven locations in Virginia and Maryland — and make an appointment, or request one online.