If you’re experiencing ongoing neck pain, it may be time to stop reaching for the aspirin and begin looking for an interventional solution.
Neck pain can run the gamut from the occasional discomfort of being bent over a computer to ongoing agony after a fall. In the middle are causes – some obvious, some mysterious – that must be uncovered before treatment can begin to alleviate or eliminate the pain. Among the most common culprits are:
- General poor posture, awkward sleeping positions and everyday stress, which can cause the neck to stiffen and ache, as can repetitive tasks involving the upper body.
- Rear-end automobile accidents, in which the head is rapidly propelled forward and backward, potentially damaging neck muscles, ligaments and nerves or the spine is seriously impacted. [Note: Anyone with severe neck pain or loss of movement or feeling after an accident should get emergency help at once.]
- Athletic injuries, such as those incurred by football players and participants in other full-contact sports.
- So-called “tech neck” or “text neck,” caused by long periods of looking down on devices.
- Pinched nerves caused by bone spurs or herniated discs that put pressure on the nerves in the neck, resulting in neck pain and, sometimes, numbness in the arms and hands.
- Arthritis, when the cartilage that helps cushion the bones in the neck erode.
- Illness, including some cancers, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and meningitis. When present with other indicators, it also can be a symptom of a heart attack.
- And, as it is in so many health-related issues, tobacco use can be a factor.
In searching for the cause your neck pain, it’s important to completely and accurately share your accompanying symptoms with your physician. These can include achiness and stiffness; shooting pains; numbness; shoulder and arm pain; headache; dizziness; nausea; fever; vomiting; difficulty swallowing or breathing; and anything else that is new or aberrant.
Diagnosis also will include a deep dive into your health history and a physical exam. It may also be necessary to do an MRI and/or CT scan, X-rays and blood tests to get to the bottom of the problem.
Depending on the cause, the solution can be found in many courses of action and treatment, from physical therapy to medication to injections to nerve blocks and ablation. While seldom necessary, surgery also is an option when the patient isn’t getting sufficient relief with other treatments.
To get to that end, your primary physician may refer you to a pain management specialist, a clinician or group with experience in neck injuries and experience in treating the pain they produce. Or you may decide to make pain management your starting point – hopefully with us.
The fact is that persistent neck pain could be a signal for a serious underlying cause and early intervention often is key to addressing it. If you’re ready to take that first step into action, call us for a consultation.
We’re here to help.