Cervical spine pain can be so uncomfortable and should be treated by the best neck doctor. This part of the spine has a complex structure and is able to support your head, which can weigh fifteen pounds or more. Additionally, your cervical spine or neck can move in different directions and there is no other part of your body that boasts such free movements. Due to these frequent movements, your neck is prone to injury and pain. This type of pain may be accompanied by strain and can get chronic. So, if there is pain, it is better to find a local doctor who offers the best pain management services.
The anatomy of the neck
There are seven tiny vertebrae in your cervical spine and eight nerve roots, thirty-two muscles, intervertebral discs, ligaments, joints, the vascular system and spinal cord. So the nerve roots originate from the spinal cord and leave it via foramen passageways in the vertebrae. A nerve root carries nerve impulses to and from the brain, chest, arms and shoulders. The vascular system consists of four arteries and veins and runs via the neck to bring blood between your brain and heart.
Free cervical spine movements are enabled by ligaments, muscles and joints and they also provide stability. As a result of the neck’s amazing flexibility, it can move your head in several directions. For instance, it can allow a ninety degrees forward motion and a ninety percent backward motion. It can also do one hundred and eighty degrees side to side rotations and up to one hundred and twenty of tilt to the left or right shoulder.
What a New York pain doctor might find out
Once you decide to get in touch with a renowned neck doctor in NY, he or she will try to find out the cause of your neck pain. It can be anything, including:
- Whiplash – This is a common injury affecting the cervical spine. It commonly occurs during a serious vehicle accident. This is described as an injury that entails forced and rapid backward or forward head movements. As a result of forceful, unnatural movements, the neck muscles and ligaments get hurt. So they tighten and contract, resulting to stiffness, pain and fatigue. A whiplash injury should be taken to a pain management
- Osteoarthritis –This is a degenerative disease that mostly affects older people. If not found out, osteoarthritis will cause progressive cartilage damage and bone spurs (osteophytes) will result. These will then impact joint function. It is therefore important to have your neck ache checked by a qualified neck doctor before osteoarthritis causes more damage.
- Stenosis –While spinal stenosis is a condition that commonly affects the lower back (lumbar spine), it can also develop in the cervical spine. Stenosis of the neck occurs when the foramen begins to become narrower, compressing and trapping nerve roots. As entrapped nerves cannot function properly, symptoms like pain and numbness can be felt in the neck, shoulder and arm. To find out if you have cervical spine stenosis, locate a suitable pain management doctor online and call them to arrange your first meeting.
- Degenerative disc disease – This is yet another common cause of neck pain and affects the intervertebral discs. DDD makes these discs a bit dehydrated and this leads to reduced disc elasticity and height. The same disc can herniate or bulge and this can cause a lot of pain, numbness and tingling. To find out if you have DDD anywhere in your spine, meet a neck doctor for proper diagnosis.
- Bad posture – Most people know about a stiff neck and the way it restricts neck movements. A poor posture when sleeping is the leading cause of a stiff neck and should be avoided. Neck pain can also happen to those who maintain poor postures when working in front of their computers. When posture is improved, neck pain can be resolved; but if it worsens, it is best to meet a great pain management
- Tension and stress – It is easy to feel pain and stiffness in the neck when the muscles tighten and contract due to emotional stress and tension. To avoid this, learn how to effectively manage your stressful situations. Whether you will take an evening walk, take a warm bath, do yoga and meditation or listen to cool music, the important thing is to be able to cope with stress every single day. Once you do this, neck ache and headache triggered by stress will gradually disappear. But, just to be sure that there is no disease or injury causing pain in the neck, have a neck doctor examine you.
Apart from the above causes, an aching neck can be due to another serious problem. If the pain has become chronic and accompanied by neurologic symptoms, it is possible that you have a spinal infection, a compression fracture or spinal tumor. It could also be that your recent head injury also affected your neck. The right way to find out is to go a reputable pain management clinic in your area. Dr. Michael Nguyen is one of those pain doctors you should get in touch with as he is a well-known TV personality and a respected medical author.
How is pain diagnosed by a neck doctor?
Prior to knowing how to cure your neck ache, you should know what is causing it. That’s where proper diagnosis comes in and can only be offered by a well-trained pain management expert. During diagnosis, the physician will first seek to know your medical history and so you will be asked certain questions that you should answer truthfully. So, tell your doctor about your neck pain as clearly as possible.
Let him or her know when it begun, the activity that you were doing just before the pain started, how you have tried to reduce your pain and if it has been affecting your shoulders, arms, chest and neck. It will also be great if you talk about the things that worsen or lessen your neck pain.
After taking your medical history, the doctor will do a physical examination exercise that will include checking your neck’s range of motion and observing your spinal posture. At this point, your neck doctor will be keen to note a movement that causes discomfort. He or she will as well feel your spinal curvature and vertebral alignment to see if there is a deformity or injury.
After a physical exam, the New York pain doctor can carry out neurological exams that will test your muscle strength, reflexes, motor and sensory patterns and pain circulation. Radiographic studies can be done to show narrowing disc spaces, bone spurs due osteoarthritis and compression fractures and so on. If there are herniated discs, you might have neurologic symptoms too and these can be identified via MRIs.
There can be nerve damage in the neck area and so the pain management doctor will carry out special tests (nerve conduction studies) to find out how fast nerves transmit impulses. By the end of the session, you will have known what is causing your neck ache.
How neck pain is treated
Pain that is affecting the neck is cured based on the cause. Sometimes medicines will offer adequate relieve and other times the doctor will prescribe spinal injections or surgery. Prior to suggesting surgery, the neck doctor will make sure that all non-surgical cures have failed to remove the pain and other symptoms. If it is suspected that your neck pain could be partly due to emotional stress caused by physical pain, the physician may prescribe antidepressant drugs. Here is an outline of medicines you might use to cure neck pain.
These can be bought from a local drug store. They can include analgesic drugs that are used to reduce pain and a good example is Tylenol. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, are also available in drugs stores near you. They include medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen sodium and their work is reducing pain and inflammation. If OTC NSAIDs fail to help you, your pain management expert might offer prescription NSAIDs with more strength.
- Opioids – These medicines are prescribed when there is acute pain. This refers to serious but short-term pain episodes. Opioids can also cure chronic pain that lasts longer than six months. Alternatively called narcotics, opioids are powerful, addictive drugs that should be taken with care. Examples are morphine, tramadol, acetaminophen, and oxycodone among others.
- Muscle relaxants – These are prescribed if a person has painful muscle spasms triggered by a neck injury like whiplash or muscle strain. It minimizes pain and enhances sleep. Commonly prescribed muscle relaxants include metaxalone, cyclobenzaprine and methocarbamol.
- Antidepressants – These are prescribed when the patient has existing depression symptoms or are developing it due to feeling extreme neck or back pain. Antidepressant drugs are ideal when one suffers from chronic pain and may include TCAs(Tricyclic antidepressants), SSRIs(Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), NDRIs(Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors), and SNRIs(Serotonin- Neropinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors.
Your neck doctor will expect you to follow his or her instructions properly and avoid overdosing or skipping doses. If you are currently taking drugs for another health condition, it will be necessary to let your pain management doctor know about it. He or she will be able to prescribe drugs that will not cause drug interactions. Moreover, the expert will ensure that the prescribed neck pain drugs will not reduce the efficacy of the ones you are already taking.
In addition to letting the neck doctor know about your current prescriptions, it is important to talk about any dietary supplements or herbal medicines you might be using. These may reduce the absorption rate of the drugs they might recommend for neck ache. Besides taking drugs, you can try to interchangeably use heat and cold treatments. For instance, you can place a warm pad over the hurting neck area for twenty minutes and swap it for a cold pack for another twenty minutes. This can reduce pain and boost healing.
When surgery is considered
Like several victims of neck pain, you might easily respond to non-surgical cures like medicines, neck exercises and heat and cold treatments. However, if you have a severe case of cervical spine disease, disorder or injury, you might require neck surgery. If there are neurological symptoms like tingling, weakness and numbness affecting your arms or legs, and haven’t disappeared, you might need surgery.
Those who have lost balance and cannot walk properly may also need spinal surgery. To discover if you are among those who will require surgery, it will be important to meet your pain management team and listen to their views. If they think that surgery will be a good treatment option, you may seek a second opinion or accept it immediately.
The right doctor to pick if you need cervical spine surgery is either a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. This is the specialist who can use surgery to stop neck pain and other symptoms, restore nerve function and stop abnormal movements in the neck. Surgery is divided into decompression and stabilization surgical techniques. During decompression surgery, the doctor removes the tissue that is pressing against a nerve structure and in stabilization; the aim is to reduce motion between vertebrae bones.
Decompression surgery involves corpectomy, discectomy and TCMD(TransCorporeal MicroDecompression) procedures. The orthopedic surgeon of your choice will determine the right surgical procedure to perform in your neck. They may decide to perform decompression and stabilization surgeries at the same time. So when doing certain kinds of decompression surgery, the neck doctor may have to remove a big part of a vertebral bone that destabilizes the spine.
To restore the spines stability, the pain management specialist may have to use fusion and spinal instruments or implant an artificial disc in the affected area. Healing after neck surgery can be slow or quicker depending on how the operation was done and if the person is at a bigger risk for poor bone healing. As fewer than five percent of neck pain victims will require surgery, it is highly unlikely that you will be in this group.
But, if you must undergo surgery, then make sure it’s done safely and correctly by selecting the most reputable New York pain doctor and clinic.