Cervicalgia is neck pain that occurs toward the rear or the side of the cervical vertebrae. It generally is felt as discomfort or a sharp pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders.
The term cervicalgia covers a broad range of neck pain causes, including whiplash, muscle strain, ligament sprain, and inflammation of the neck joints. It also can be caused by a number of abnormalities in the region of the cervical vertebrae, including a bulging disc, a pinched nerve, narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis), spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
Symptoms of cervicalgia can include:
- Sharp or constant pain in the neck, shoulders or upper back
- Pain associated with rotating or twisting the head
- Tightness or stiffness in the neck, shoulders or upper back
- Tenderness when the area is touched
If you consistently experience one or more of these symptoms, you should consider seeing your physician. Among other questions, you will probably be asked when you first felt the pain. After an initial examination to determine the origin and potential cause of the pain, your physician might prescribe over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Or, you may be referred to an orthopedic specialist, who will perform a more in-depth examination that could include an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Rarely will a condition diagnosed as a form of cervicalgia require surgery. Quite often, a condition such as a bulging disc or pinched nerve in the neck can be treated through physical therapy or behavior modification. Occasionally, though, more serious conditions that threaten to permanently reduce comfort and quality of life should be treated surgically.
Always consult with your family physician or a trained orthopedic specialist to accurately diagnose the source and potential causes of chronic cervicalgia. An MRI or CT scan can be used to reveal the severity of an injury, and you can contact Laser Spine Institute for a free, second-opinion review of an MRI or CT scan result.
When neck or back pain is debilitating enough that surgery becomes necessary, consider a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute as a way to regain your ability to live life to the fullest. Our advanced procedures are followed by a faster recovery than traditional open spine surgery and a success rate of 87 percent.