Getting relief for chronic neck pain
Neck pain that lasts longer than three months is generally considered to be chronic neck pain. This is different from acute neck pain, which occurs suddenly and is often caused by muscle strain or ligament sprain. Longer-term pain originating from the neck should not be ignored, as it can be a sign of upper spine degeneration that can lead to nerve compression.
Some patients with chronic neck pain caused by a compressed cervical nerve root can have symptoms that come and go, while others experience constant discomfort and mobility problems. Symptoms can be local or they can radiate along the path of the nerve into other areas of the upper body. Spine conditions related to the natural aging process — like arthritis and degenerative disc disease — can cause nerve compression when displaced spinal anatomy narrows the spinal canal and nerve root exits.
If your life has become severely affected by chronic neck pain, to the point where it is affecting your work, relationships and hobbies, finding a treatment that gets you back to the life you’ve been missing is extremely important. Having a full understanding of how a diagnosis is reached and the full range of treatment options available can help you better work with your physician to get the help you need.
Treating chronic neck pain
When you make an appointment with your primary care physician, he or she will initially ask you about the location and severity of your symptoms. To reach a diagnosis, he or she may also use the following methods to diagnose neck pain causes:
- A physical exam
- A neurological exam
- Blood testing
- Spinal imaging, such as MRI, CT scan or X-ray
- Other tests, such as a bone scan, electromyography, discogram or myelogram
Depending on the diagnosis, most neck pain symptoms can be managed through a conservative course of treatment. This can include physical therapy, pain medicine, anti-inflammatory injections and lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or a weight loss plan. Surgery generally becomes an option if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring acceptable pain relief and a return to normal activity.
Laser Spine Institute
There is an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute can treat chronic neck pain using minimally invasive outpatient procedures that can help you regain your life. Contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost CT scan or MRI review* to find out if you’re a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.