What should I do if I have neck pain?
While more minor cases of neck pain will usually go away within a few days with minimal treatment like rest and ice, you should see a doctor if symptoms do not improve or worsen with time. Proper diagnosis and treatment of neck pain is important for your long-term health, especially if it is related to a spine condition like arthritis or a herniated disc.
Chronic neck pain from a spine condition can have a debilitating effect on your life, making simple tasks like driving your car or preparing a meal difficult to impossible. However, many patients are able to find relief with some surprisingly simple doctor-recommended methods. While the following treatments are commonly recommended, it is important to consult your doctor to make sure that any therapy you attempt is safe for your particular condition.
Treatments that Your Physician May Recommend
Upon diagnosing the cause of neck pain through a physical examination and possibly with diagnostic imagery like an X-ray or MRI, most doctors will initially recommend basic, conservative treatments. The following are some typical options:
- Good sleeping habits. Stomach sleepers strain the muscles in the neck more than those who sleep on their side or back. Confirm that your pillow provides enough support for your head and neck, or invest in a neck pillow.
- Massage. Getting a massage will help loosen the muscles in your neck and may lessen symptoms.
- Cold and hot therapy. In the first two days of feeling pain, ice the area in 20-minute increments every few hours to reduce inflammation. Heat therapy in the form of heat packs or a warm bath can ease muscle tension and improve blood flow.
- Posture improvement. Maintain correct posture when sitting and standing to keep from aggravating your neck pain.
- Stretching. Keep your muscles pliable by stretching before exercise or after sitting for long periods.
- Proper ergonomics. If you sit at a desk for the majority of the day, be sure your office chair is ergonomically designed. Your computer monitors should also be adjusted to reduce strain on your neck.
- Medication. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve pain and swelling.
For more severe cases of neck pain, a doctor may also prescribe physical therapy and epidural steroid injections to regain range of motion and relieve pain and inflammation.
Laser Spine Institute
Surgery for neck pain usually becomes a serious option if weeks or months of conservative treatment does not bring relief of symptoms. If you find yourself considering surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open neck surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed by board-certified surgeons+ using a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine. The result is an outpatient procedure with less risk of complications like infection or failed back surgery syndrome when compared to traditional open spine surgery.
Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* that can help you determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.