Know When to See a Neck Pain Doctor
If you are like most people, you have probably experienced some form of neck pain in your life. Because your neck contains flexible muscles that are constantly supporting the weight of your head, it is prone to many types of injuries that can restrict motion and cause you pain. Intense neck pain can come up suddenly, or it may begin mildly while gradually increasing in severity over time. Neck pain can stem from injury or damage to the muscles, nerves, or vertebrae within your neck. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to see a pain doctor New York.
What is Causing Your Neck Pain?
Many times, neck pain is simply caused by muscle tension or straining of the soft tissues. This can occur when you lie down in an awkward position, or sit with bad posture such as hunched over a computer screen, or even when clenching your teeth. Sometimes, the pain can be caused by damage that has occured to your joints, discs or nerves. A condition known as Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your vertebrae wears down and deteriorates, which inhibits your joint motion and causes you pain. This can also result in bone spurs that press on the nerves which branch out from your spinal cord. Certain injuries can also cause neck pain, as in the case of whiplash or a herniated disk. Common throat infections can lead to swollen lymph nodes, which can cause neck pain as well. In addition, certain medical conditions such as fibromyalgia can affect your neck muscles. In rare cases, an underlying issue such as cancer, osteomyelitis, meningitis, or rheumatoid arthritis could also be the source of neck pain.
What Are Common Contributors Of Neck Pain?
- Sleeping Position
Sleeping with your head bent too far forward, backward, or to one side is one of the most common contributors of neck pain. Sleeping on your back with a pillow that allows for the proper alignment of your spine can help keep this from occurring.
- Poor Posture
Poor posture strains your muscles and over-stretches your ligaments, resulting in stiffness and soreness. The most common example of this is when you slant your neck forward, with your head in front of your shoulders.
- Heavy Shoulder Bag
When you carry a shoulder bag, your body instinctively compensates for the added weight. The shoulder that carries your bag is restricted, preventing your arm from swinging properly. This causes your other arm to over-compensate which puts extra strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. Carrying a bag with a large strap, as well as carrying your bag on alternating sides, can alleviate this problem.
- New Activity
Any new, moderately strenuous activity can make your muscles more susceptible to strain.
- Repetitive Motion
If repeated long enough, any type of motion will eventually strain your muscles, resulting in pain and muscle weakness.
When you feel stress, your body naturally reacts in the form of muscle tension. Consider making a conscious effort to relax and release this tension. Breathing exercises and meditation can help to relieve stress and release tension.
How Can You Manage Your Neck Pain At Home?
- Heat or Ice
For the first 48 hours, it is usually recommended that you use ice on an injury in order to reduce swelling. This can then be alternated with heat in order to relax strained muscles and relieve stiffness. You should only leave either treatment on for 20 minutes at a time, making sure to leave them off for at least 40 minutes in between.
Stretching your neck muscles is a good way to relieve tension. Warm your muscles with a hot towel, heating pad, or hot shower beforehand. Then turn your head up and down and from side to side slowly, while gently stretching out your neck.
Exercise can significantly reduce your neck pain and increase mobility. Staying active by swimming, walking or biking will help to improve blood flow and keep your muscles strong.
Massaging helps to relax muscles and relieve spasms while alleviating pain and improving mobility.
- Good Posture
Make a conscious effort to practice good posture. Always make sure your back is supported and try to keep your head and neck straight.
When Should You See A Neck Pain Doctor?
When neck pain is caused by muscle tension or strain, it will normally get better within a few days on its own. Most neck pain that persists longer than a few weeks will usually respond to stretching, massage, exercise, and physical therapy. However, there are times when self-management is not enough. In these cases, you will need to find a pain doctor NY. You should be evaluated by an experienced pain doctor in order to explore all of your pain management options.
You should schedule an office visit if you experience neck pain that:
- Worsens, or persists after several weeks of self-management
- Radiates down your arms or legs
- Is accompanied by weakness, numbness, tingling, or headache
- Feels like persistent pins and needles
What Type Of Neck Pain Doctor?
There are many types of doctors and practitioners who can help to treat and alleviate your symptoms. Non-medical practitioners like chiropractors, physical therapists, or massage therapists can be beneficial in alleviating pain and improving mobility. Medical specialists who focus primarily on treating your neck and spine like orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and physiatrists are helpful in treating a variety of medical issues that can be the root cause of pain. Pain treatment specialists are a type of pain doctor NJ who specialize in evaluating and managing your painful conditions. Certified pain doctors are the experts when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of pain. They have an understanding of the multidisciplinary approach it takes in order to manage your pain, and can help you navigate through the choices you have. These choices primarily depend on the severity, nature, and duration of your painful symptoms.
Who Should You Choose For Your Neck Pain Doctor?
It is important for you to find a pain doctor New Jersey with the right experience and training that can assist you with your specific concerns. When looking into your pain management options, you want a neck pain doctor who will start with the least invasive alternatives. Obviously, you want the alternatives that will provide you with the most relief, while having the least risk involved. Alternatives such as epidural injections for example, can greatly improve quality of life by increasing mobility and eliminating pain without the need of risky surgeries. At Pain Treatment Specialists, we evaluate your individual circumstances in order to provide a proper diagnosis and develop a tailored treatment plan to include advanced interventional pain procedures. Some of the treatments we offer for neck pain include:
- Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection
This is an injection of a steroid such as cortisone that reduces the pain and swelling in your neck, arms, and shoulders. It reduces the pressure and discomfort caused by problems such as arthritis and herniated discs. In many cases, it will alleviate the painful symptoms entirely.
- Cervical Facet Block Injection
Also called a Medial Branch Block Injection, this is a faster and less invasive treatment option commonly used for those suffering from arthritis. One or two specific joints within the cervical spine are injected with a local anesthetic drug, along with a steroid medicine. This not only reduces inflammation, but entirely numbs the pain as well.
- Trigger Point Injections
Some of your more sensitive areas are referred to as trigger points. These areas are located deep inside your muscles or tissues. You can experience painful symptoms when they are overused or when pressure is applied to these areas. They exhibit themselves as knots that have become contracted and are difficult to relax. Trigger point injections use a local anesthetic, along with a steroid medicine, to alleviate these painful symptoms and help to relax these areas. This is a quick procedure that eliminates pain immediately, used in conjunction with a tailored treatment course in order to provide long term relief.
Our dedicated pain treatment specialists understand that a complex condition such as chronic pain can inflict not only physical pain, but can cause emotional and financial stress as well. Our highly trained pain doctors know that pain is not effectively treated by any single method of treatment alone. Our revolutionary, multidisciplinary approach focuses on giving you the best results, while helping you to avoid costly surgeries.