Affecting between 40 and 50% of Americans, neck pain is one of the most common conditions for our patients to have. Neck pain is also readily treatable following proper diagnosis. With a number of common causes, and potentially serious implications when left untreated such as with the 3 million injuries due to whiplash yearly(15% will advance to a chronic lifelong problem), neck pain amongst our patients is a serious concern that requires immediate care to avoid the risk of potentially life-changing results.
What can cause Neck Pain?
There are many conditions that may produce symptomatic neck pain:
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Injury or trauma to the neck
Pulled or strained muscle
Inflammation due to arthritis
tumors although less common
What symptoms does Neck Pain cause?
Pain in the neck and stiffness during movement are the two largest signs that a condition may be present. Patients who are experiencing weakness or numbness in their arms or shoulders may have additional complications in their neck, and are encouraged to contact a physician immediately.
How is Neck Pain diagnosed?
Diagnosis of the root cause is normally found through a combination of imaging techniques and physical exam. Both the physical structures of the neck and the soft tissues will be examined, with some patients receiving a mobility test if they have any degree of stiffness present.
What treatment options are available for Neck Pain?
The treatment best suited to providing pain relief will be directly influenced by what the root cause of symptoms is. Neck strain, direct injury, or symptoms resulting from a secondary cause each have their own effective methods of treatment. Patients with sudden pain following a jerking of the neck or who have been straining their neck recently may be able to obtain relief using conservative methods. These include:
Physical Therapy: Patients exhibiting moderate symptoms of pain may have physical therapy suggested to them. Therapy includes the use of a heating pad on the neck in 15 to 20 minute periods, preformed every two or three hours. Patients may also benefit from careful manipulation of the neck, using exercise and mechanical traction to restore mobility and reduce symptomatic pains.
Chiropractic Treatment: Patients who find relief through manipulation of their neck will likely have full chiropractic treatment suggested to them to help maintain relief. In many cases, the treatment will be directly tailored to match the unique causes and symptoms for each of our patients, with changes in the frequency of sessions and the actions taken during each. Chiropractic treatment is an effective tool for both minor and chronic pain.
Medication: Patients are likely to use pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate their symptoms, which will have varying effectiveness on a patient to patient basis. Patients who are not able to obtain their desired level of relief with store-bought medications are suggested to contact our physicians, as the cause of symptoms may be serious and require short term narcotics.
Therapeutic blocks are a safe and quick method of obtaining long-lasting pain relief for patients who are experiencing pain from arthritis or a degenerative cause.
There are a number of therapeutic injections available to provide relief.
The stellate ganglion is a nerve bundle located in the neck, and is directly responsible for feeling in the local tissue. A Stellate Ganglion Block (the injection of anesthesia into the nerve bundle) can help to provide relief to nearly any condition in the surrounding tissue that is causing symptoms of pain.
Other injection treatments may include Cervical Sympathetic Blocks, Trigger point injections, medial branch blocks, epidural injections, or facet injections. In more complex or persistent cases (over 12 weeks), RA (radiofrequency ablation) may be recommended. This procedure may provide over a year of consistent pain relief!
The vast majority of patients suffering from neck pain are able to achieve excellent relief through nonoperative San Antonio pain management techniques. This may necessitate a combination of treatments, such as those offered at Texas Pain Network including PT, chiropractic, medication management or interventional procedures.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!