Important Things To Know About Neck Pain
Why does neck pain occur
Neck pain can occur because of many reasons, but one is called cervical osteoarthritis. Cervical osteoarthritis happens when protective connective tissue called cartilage in the cervical joint starts to deteriorate and prevents a smooth movement between the bones. This rough surfaces touching each other can result in swelling and pain. There are other problems that can also happen such as cervical degenerative joint disease, cervical spondylosis, and neck arthritis.
Symptoms and anatomy
Spine is flexible, but flexibility is dependent on facet joints health. In the neck area or cervical spine, joints are named cervical facet joints. Each vertebral level has two facet joints positioned in the back, one to the right and one to the left side that allows the movement. Facet joint is encased in a protective coverage like a capsule with synovial fluid that gives the necessary lubrication to allow proper movement. A facet joint also contains cartilage for protection of the vertebral bone. If the cartilage deteriorates, bone and bone friction can cause osteophytes known as bone spur. Further discomfort, swelling, and pain can also occur. The reason is because of the presence of free floating particles of the cartilage and bone in the synovial fluid capsule after breakage happens because of friction.
Risk factors and management
Some of the common causes and risk factors of cervical osteoarthritis can be mentioned. The first one is age related factors. As we grow older, facet joints naturally starts to damage. Other risk factors are family history, trauma, weight increment, and bad ergonomics or work related postures.
As we mentioned already, neck pain is a symptom and behind this symptom, there can be various conditions that you can have. The best way to approach the pain is by doing an evaluation with a board certified pain specialist. A comprehensive treatment plan can be created and designed just for your specific concern. Management can include medications, minimally invasive procedures, and conservative management approach. Depending on how severe the pain is as well as finding out the cause of the pain can help specialist manage your case in the best possible way.
Pain management and approach
The best way to approach neck pain under the management of a pain specialist starts with good communication.
It is important to let the pain expert know all the medications you are already taking before starting a new prescription medication for pain.
You should follow strict instructions from your pain specialist when taking new prescriptions as well.
It is very important to consider to avoid taking other non prescription medication especially if your current pain doctor does not know. Also, if you are already taking prescription medications, no other medication should be taken at the same time.
For neck pain symptoms, analgesics options can be considered and some examples are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. For prescription medications your pain doctor can also prescribe medications that will help relax the muscles. These will mainly stop spasms in the muscles for those chronic neck pain patients. Other medications also work by stopping message communication to the brain.
Pain experts of New York perform minimally invasive procedures like spinal injections for neck pain such as: cervical epidural injections and trigger point injections that does not require surgery. However, these minimally invasive procedures help with severe neck pain for many months.
In the case of cervical epidural injection, Dr. Chen and Dr. Khimani are experts in pain management in New York and they explain how by means of a minimally invasive procedure a medication reduces inflammatory response when it is injected into the correct place around the spine and nerve roots to treat the discomfort in a way that it decreases or it is reduced to zero for many months after.
The same way trigger point injections in many of the severe cases target neck areas that cannot relax even with pain medication.
Other resources that are also recommended to patients for a multi dynamic approach that helps them with pain would be physical therapy as well as massage and strengthening exercises that will help with balance and flexibility. Chiropractor approach and alternative treatments can also help with relieve of pain and swelling of the affected muscles.
Surgery as the last alternative is recommended for neck pain when the medical problem indicates it like in the case of spinal canal narrowing or tumor presence that needs removal.