Cervicalgia — overview of causes, symptoms and treatments

Cervicalgia is neck pain that occurs toward the rear or the side of the cervical (upper) spinal 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 issues 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.

Cervicalgia symptoms

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
  • Headaches

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, possibly including diagnostic testing like an MRI, to determine the origin and potential cause of the pain, your physician might prescribe over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

When to consider surgery for cervicalgia

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 lifestyle changes. Occasionally, though, more serious conditions that threaten to permanently reduce comfort and quality of life should be treated surgically. If you have concerns about the risks and difficulties associated with traditional open neck or back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute.

When neck or back pain is debilitating enough that surgery becomes necessary, consider minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for no lengthy recovery^ and less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

To help you find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, we are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review.*