Neck pain is something many people have to cope with at some time in their lives, but if you have severe neck pain, it can seriously affect your ability to function.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain can have many possible causes, as your neck is susceptible to both injury and wear and tear. Your neck is made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, vertebrae, and discs that all work together to enable you to function normally. If any of these tissues or bones is damaged, it can cause pain and may affect other structures within your neck.
Common causes of neck pain include:
- Sports injuries
- Vehicular collisions
- Pinched nerves
- Bone spurs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated discs
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Acute neck pain comes on suddenly, usually when you sustain an injury, and as the damaged tissues heal the pain goes away. If your neck pain doesn’t improve and lasts more than three months, it’s a chronic condition that is likely due to degenerative diseases that cause structural changes in the spine.
How is neck pain diagnosed?
Your doctor starts by reviewing your history and assessing your symptoms, then performs a physical exam to test your range of movement and identify the source of your pain. They may ask you to carry out certain movements and test your reflexes and nerve responses.
Your doctor has access to a range of diagnostic tools and imaging technologies to help with the diagnosis and assess the extent of any damage, including:
- Bone scan
- CT scan
- Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test
- Electromyography (EMG)
If your doctor suspects you have a disease that’s causing your neck pain, they may order blood tests to confirm or rule out the possibility.
What treatments are available for neck pain?
Most neck pain is due to soft tissue damage that heals with a combination of rest and gentle exercise. You may find it helpful to take anti-inflammatory pain medication and wear a soft, supportive collar while your neck heals.
Treatment for more severe or chronic neck pain depends on the cause, so identifying why your neck hurts is essential. Once you receive a diagnosis, your doctor can advise you on the most appropriate form of treatment. Options include:
- Prescription medication
- Pain-relieving injections
- Physical therapy
- Heat therapy
- Electrical stimulation therapy
Some injuries such as fractured vertebrae require surgery, and your doctor may also recommend surgery in cases where conservative treatment approaches aren’t resolving your pain.
If you’re suffering from neck pain, schedule an appointment with one our board certified specialists at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care.