You may be joking when you call someone a “pain in the neck,” but if you’ve ever actually experienced neck pain you know it’s nothing to kid about. There are many different reasons for neck pain and a wide range of severity: you can have mild discomfort or constant agony; your pain can be caused by arthritis or stress, or may be due to an injury that has trapped a nerve or herniated a disc. When your neck pain has appeared suddenly and is tolerable, it makes sense to wait a day or two to see if it goes away. But if it has become a constant companion of over three months, then it’s time to make an appointment with our cervical spine specialist to get a diagnosis and a plan for improvement.
Different Types of Neck Pain
Different types of neck injuries or conditions manifest in different symptoms. Some people experience neck pain as stiffness isolated to the muscles of the neck, while for others the pain may travel down to the shoulders, the middle of the back, and even down to the hands or up to the skull. Those who experience acute pain have symptoms that cause them to hold their head in an unusual position, or to experience weakness in the arms or a tingling or burning sensation.
Neck pain that is accompanied by fever, headache, pain behind the eye, vomiting or changes in your vision or hearing requires medical attention immediately. The same is true if it follows a head injury or traumatic accident. But if the pain is less severe and you aren’t experiencing these types of symptoms, you can take a non-steroidal inflammatory medication and see if a few days will help to clear it up before making an appointment with a cervical spine specialist. Use of a heating pad can be helpful too. Remember that though you should avoid strain, that doesn’t mean you should hide under the covers. Bed rest invites stiffness.
Seeing a Cervical Spine Specialist
When you choose to make an appointment with our cervical spine specialist, you’ll find that our approach is careful and conservative. After a thorough examination that includes taking a comprehensive history in order to determine the pain’s origin, testing the movement of your neck and muscles, and possibly ordering X-rays or other diagnostic tests, we often recommend starting with a period of physical therapy, exercises such as yoga, or massage therapy to see whether those measures help. If, following those treatments, you are still experiencing neck pain, we can discuss other options such as minimally invasive surgical procedures appropriate to your condition.
If you are experiencing chronic neck pain, or have recently suffered an injury that has caused you neck discomfort, then making an appointment with our cervical neck pain specialist is one of best steps you can take towards a return to comfort and health. Contact our office today to set up an appointment.