The main cause of neck pain is the degeneration of the cervical spine. Repeated injuries to the neck that add up over the years may eventually lead to cervical spine damage and pain. If you suffer from chronic neck pain, get treatment as soon as you can. Find a neck pain doctor who is well-educated, experienced and reputable. After examining your neck, this doctor will tell you how quickly you can recuperate from your ache. They will also inform you whether you have a chronic neck problem already or are headed there. A professional neck and back pain doctor in NJ and his or her health care team will locate and solve the main cause of your neck pain.
If there is a disease like arthritis, your doctor will manage it medically to slow down your neck’s degeneration process. The main roles of a neck pain doctor is to locate the real cause of your neck ache, recommend a suitable cure and keep your pain from becoming a chronic condition. In the course of treatment, your physician will become your advisor and friend. To understand your symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options, it would be prudent to educate yourself about your neck’s anatomy. The more you educate yourself, the more you will understand the common terminologies used by your back pain doctor in NJ and his fellow health care experts when referring to issues affecting the cervical spine. This means that you will be able to ask your neck pain doctor the right questions and make firm decisions.
The cervical spine and its components
The uppermost areas of the spine and the soft tissues enclosing it are collectively called the cervical spine. Soft tissues include your tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles and blood vessels. The first seven vertebrae of your spine are in the cervical spine (C1 to C7). Your cervical spine begins right under your skull and ends right above your thoracic spine. There is a bony tube within the 24 vertebrae bones of your spine and each vertebra has a big hole in the middle. The bony tube or spinal canal exists because the hollow bones join together to form what is called the spinal column. The work of your vertebrae bones is to keep your spinal cord safe and properly supported. Your spinal cord consists of sensitive nerves that connect to your brain and other organs of the body. The spinal cord travels from the brain to the tailbone in your lower back along a bony tube. There are also smaller nerves that leave your spine to other parts of your body through the foramen; these are located between each vertebra. In your cervical spine area, these tiny nerves enter your arms and travel down to your hands. Your cervical vertebrae are the tiniest ones in the entire spine and this is because they don’t have to bear the amount of weight that your back does. To find out more about your cervical spine condition right now, locate a reliable back pain doctor in NJ who deals with neck pain too.
When the cervical spine hurts
Neck pain mostly occurs when excessive pressure is exerted on your nerve roots and seeing your neck pain doctor is the right action to take. This pressure often results from small neck injuries that may not trigger pain when happening. Over a long period of time, those tiny, unrecognized injuries may add up and cause abnormal wear and tear to the connective tissue that forms the intervertebral disc. As soon as this connective tissue is so weak, sudden neck pressure such as that caused by a whiplash accident can injure your intervertebral disc.
As disc degeneration (spondylolysis) continues, your neck pain might worsen. To find out if you have spondylolysis of the cervical spine, get in touch with your neck and back pain doctor in NJ. If they find that you have a degenerative disc disease, they will offer the most appropriate treatment option. As men and women grow older, their interverterbral disc loses some of its water substance and therefore its shock absorbing ability. In the beginning, a tear may develop in the outer ring of the disc (annulus) without causing any pain. When healing, however, these tears form a scar tissue that is usually weaker than the normal tissue surrounding your disc.
If you encounter more injuries and tears, more scars will be formed and the disc will keep on degenerating and losing its water content. The soft, sponge-like structure that helps with shock absorption will stop doing its work. Then the disc will collapse, causing the space between the affected vertebrae to shrink in size. This collapse will then affect the facet joints in the back side of your spinal column, leading to abnormal pressure on your articular cartilage. This is the soft, shiny material that covers the edge of the bones in your joints. Continuing abnormal pressure triggers osteoarthritis of the facet joints. If you don’t get examined by a good neck pain doctor, bone spurs will form around your disc and facet joints. Additionally, bone spurs can form around your spinal nerves, triggering a problem called spinal stenosis.
Have a neck pain doctor near me check you for spinal conditions
Presence of a disc degeneration disease means that many other conditions can affect your spinal canal and trigger neck pain. By seeing a back pain doctor in NJ, you can find out whether your cervical spine discs are degenerating by now. As well, you can discover whether there are spinal conditions too: mechanical neck pain, spinal stenosis muscle strain and cervical radiculopathy and nerve pinches and so on.
- Mechanical neck pain – If you have chronic neck pain that won’t go away, let your neck pain doctor examine you the soonest possible. This could mean that you have arthritis in the facet joints of your cervical spine. This mechanical pain worsens as you continue to use your neck. It tends to arise from the cervical spine components that enable us to move our head to the direction we want. And this means that your intervertebral disc and facet joints are inflamed. The more you use your cervical spine muscles, the more they will generate spasms that hurt you in the same way a muscle cramp does.
- Cervical radiculopathy – In other words, this condition is called a pinched nerve. As aforesaid, the small nerve roots that leaves your cervical spine travels down to your arms and hands. If these roots get pinched or irritated along the way, either by a section of your intervertebral disc or a bones spur, the nerves cannot function normally. Hence, you can feel weakness in the muscle the nerve serves, pain in the area where the nerve goes through or numbness in the skin located where the nerve passes. If these symptoms are found by your back pain doctor in NJ, you will be diagnosed with radiculopathy.
- Muscle Strain – Have you ever strained your neck? Almost everybody has had that one night’s sleep that produced a stiff neck in the morning. If you have experienced this type of strain, you know how bad it can get. Poor posture during sleep is not the only thing that could strain your neck though. If your neck pain doctor finds out that you have muscle spasm, this will be a good sign that there could be injured areas of your neck. Muscle strain issues always involve the injury of soft tissues of your neck, including your disc, ligaments and muscles.
- A herniated disc and pinched nerve – Human neck produces immense vertebral pressure when it’s turned to different directions. In response, your disc attempts to absorb the shock and when you bow your neck forward, the disc bulges toward your spinal canal and nerve roots. If your neck movements exert excessive pressure on your disc, it can develop an injury that can lead to a tear in the annulus. The annulus is known to tear or rapture anywhere about your intervertebral disc, and can cause a portion of the nucleus pulposus to squeeze out of the middle of the disc. If it raptures on the side that is adjacent to the spinal canal, a squeezed out nucleus pulposus can press against the spinal nerves.
- A disc that behaves this way is said to be herniated and can put pressure on a nerve root resulting to a lot of pain, weakness and numbness along that nerve. At this point, see the best back pain doctor in NJ as soon as you can If a disc does form a hernia, it raptures and releases chemicals that are known to irritate the nerve root and cause pain. A whiplash accident almost always causes a healthy disc to absorb excessive shock, thus becoming herniated. The only way to know whether you have a degenerative disc disease and therefore a ruptured or herniated disc is to go see your back pain doctor in NJ. And if you live with a degenerative disc disease, don’t assume that you have a ruptured disc because it’s not a must.
- Pinched nerve from bone spurs – The leading cause of bone spurs is the degenerative disc disease. The spurs form around nerve roots inside the foramen. As aforementioned, the foramen is the cervical spine’s opening where the nerve root leaves the spine and goes into your arm. If bone spurs form around your nerve roots in the cervical spine area and grow so big, they can rub on and irritate them. This can cause a lot of pain that may radiate down your arm, causing numbness in other areas that the same nerve produces sensations. Weakness can also be felt in the muscles that the nerve serves. To learn if you have bone spurs that have pinched a nerve, call a great neck pain doctor and arrange your first appointment together.
- Spinal stenosis – Also called cervical myelopathy, spinal stenosis is caused by bone spurs. Having them is a sign that your spinal degeneration is in its last stage. As spurs form, they reduce the size of your spinal canal and then start to press on your nerve roots or spinal cord. This may result to tingling, numbness and pain in hands, legs and arms. Spinal stenosis is a bit more serious because it mainly affects a lot of nerves in your spinal canal. Cervical myelopathy can affect your arms and legs while a nerve pinch by a herniated disc or a bone spur only narrows the affected foramen. Seeing your back pain doctor in NJ can help you determine if your neck pain is a result of the spinal stenosis.
Diagnosis and treatment by the neck pain doctor near me
The neck pain doctor you prefer will diagnose you via a physical examination and learning your medical history. To verify what they think could be the cause of your pain; your doctor will carry out certain tests. These will be done via X-rays and then scans, if deemed necessary. It is important to truthfully answer any questions that your neck pain doctor might ask you. If you have had a neck or back injury or surgery, talk about it; as well as, tell your doctor whether your pain radiates to your arms and other parts of your body. During a physical exam, your back pain doctor in NJ will seek to find out whether you can bend or twist your neck, turn your head fully to any side, and whether you have soreness around the neck and/or muscle spasms that travel to your shoulders.
Tests that will be done by your back pain doctor in NJ will look for numbness in arms and hands, reflexes, muscle strength in arms, hands and legs and symptoms of nerve irritation. X-rays of your cervical spine will be taken, although they will not show your neck’s soft tissues. An X-ray of the neck will reveal the problems that are affecting your bones, including tumors, fractures or diseases. X-rays might as well tell your back pain doctor in NJ about the degree of spine degeneration, although they will not show a herniated disc on their own.
However, X-rays will reveal the narrowing of the disc space between each of your vertebra, any bone spurs and whether you have neck arthritis. If more information is needed, your neck pain doctor could do an MRI test to see the condition of your discs and nerves. A CT scan may also be needed when cross-section X-rays of the spine are necessary. If surgery is unnecessary, your neck pain doctor will treat you with medicines.