Acute neck pain

Acute neck pain is discomfort that occurs suddenly within the region of the cervical vertebrae, the seven vertebrae that form the upper spine. This is different from chronic neck pain, which is usually defined as pain that lasts longer than three months. Acute pain can often be attributed to a muscle strain or ligament sprain, damage caused by events like a car accident or even something as minor as stiffness from sleeping in a strange position.

Initial treatment for acute neck pain

Minor injuries that cause acute neck pain normally heal over time, but it is still recommended to see a medical professional about symptoms that last more than a week. Your physician may suggest methods such as the following to manage the pain while you heal:

  • Resting to prevent further tissue damage
  • Applying ice to reduce swelling
  • Using a heating pad to improve blood flow
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Getting a therapeutic massage
  • Wearing a cervical neck brace

Occasionally, acute neck pain can be an early sign of a more serious condition within the cervical spine. Radiating symptoms like tingling in the arms and hands can be indications of nerve compression and can develop into chronic neck pain if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to consult your physician if you suspect your neck pain may be caused by something more serious like a degenerative spine condition.

Laser Spine Institute

If your acute neck pain leads to the diagnosis of a spine condition and conservative treatment does not bring relief for debilitating symptoms, surgery will be considered. Surgery is seen as a last-resort treatment because of the highly invasive nature of traditional open neck and back procedures. The large incision required by a surgeon to access the spine and decompress a nerve typically involves a long recovery time to fully heal.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive outpatient procedures that can help you regain your life, with less muscle disruption than traditional open back surgery. This is because we use state-of-the-art technology to access the spine with a small incision, allowing most of our patients to be up and walking within hours of surgery.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute if your acute neck pain develops into something more serious. We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our procedures.