Neck Pain Treatment
in Dallas TX
What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain is extremely common in society and can range from mild soreness to severe pain. When people experience neck pain, this is mostly due to poor posture and typically relieves itself within a few days. However, in some cases, neck pain is associated with weakness in the arms or numbness/tingling which could indicate a more serious condition. This is where neck pain treatment can seriously help.
If your neck pain continues more than a week and accompanies other symptoms, we recommend you contacting our office to schedule a consultation.
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Neck Pain Symptoms
Neck pain symptoms can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard for patients to move. Some common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Pain that worsens when holding your head in one place for long periods. This can include while driving or sitting at a computer
- Muscle tightness and spasms at and around the neck
- Decreased ability to move your head
Neck pain can start on its own, or it could be a result of lifting something too heavy and it can continue to worsen. The DFW Center for Spinal Disorders can help relieve the neck pain you may be experiencing.
What can neck pain be a sign of?
Neck pain that does not improve within a few days may be an indication of:
- Muscle sprain or strain
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Joint disease or osteoarthritis
- Spinal stenosis
Causes of Neck Pain
- Poor posture – Patients who tend not to hold their necks upright with good posture can lead to asymmetric pressure on their discs over time, causing wear and possibly neck pain.
- Injury – The neck is vulnerable to injury from a simple fall in patients with poor bone quality or high-velocity injuries such as car and motor vehicle accidents that can fracture the bones in the neck possibly leading to neurologic injury if the spinal cord or nerves are affected.
- Smoking – Tobacco use degenerates the intervertebral discs, which can be a cause of neck pain. Smoking slows down healing, leading to a greater chance that the neck pain becomes chronic.
- Occupation – Jobs that involve heavy lifting/twisting or bending have a higher chance of leading to neck pain for employees.
Can neck pain be a sign of something serious?
In some cases, neck pain could occur in relation to a potentially serious event or illness. For example, neck pain sometimes occurs during a heart attack or as a symptom of meningitis. When neck pain is a sign of a medical problem, it does not occur on its own. There are usually other symptoms happening alongside this one. When neck pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and sweating, prompt medical care should be sought.
In most cases, neck pain is caused by stress on the cervical spine. This could be due to overuse or poor posture. Some neck pain occurs after an injury or automobile accident. Most of the time, pain is not serious and can be alleviated with proper care.
How can I relieve my neck pain?
Mild to moderate pain and stiffness may be relieved with several remedies. These include:
- Use of hot and cold therapy.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Rest and avoidance of activities that aggravate symptoms, such as exercise or sports.
- Neck exercises and stretches, such as moving the head in a side-to-side motion.
- Practicing good posture to reduce stress on the neck.
- Changing position often, both when sitting and standing.
- Gentle neck massage
- Use of a neck pillow when sleeping.
- Not cradling the phone between the shoulder and neck.
These remedies may help relieve neck pain that is caused by minor overuse or injury. If pain worsens or does not improve, medical care is necessary. A thorough examination and imaging can determine the source of pain and how to treat it.
What Does it Mean if Pain Travels from My Neck Down My Arm?
Neck pain doesn't always occur in one exact location. Depending on the injury or degradation of a segment of the cervical spine, you may feel tingling or weakness that runs down one shoulder and arm. These are the classic symptoms of a pinched nerve. The condition is referred to as cervical radiculopathy. This usually results from wear and tear that happens with age. Having pain or other sensations that travel down one arm could indicate a pinched nerve but doesn't necessarily mean that you need surgery. In many cases, cervical radiculopathy responds well to nonsurgical modalities, especially if treatment occurs early after symptoms appear.
What Kind of Doctor Should I see for Neck Pain?
You have many options when it comes to receiving care for neck pain. You might consider talking to your primary care physician first. This doctor can order x-rays or other types of imaging that may then be used by a specialist if you require more comprehensive care. If early treatment from your primary healthcare provider does not improve your comfort and range of motion, you might request a referral to an orthopedic specialist or a neurosurgeon. These two types of doctors often perform similar procedures but are trained differently. Your orthopedic surgeon has extensive training in the various conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. This doctor knows how to examine and treat the muscles, bones, cartilage, joints, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Dr. Jason C. Tinley is a board-certified spine surgeon who utilizes the least-invasive, most effective techniques possible.
Can Neck Pain be Cured through Physical Therapy?
In the majority of cases, neck pain can improve significantly without surgery. This is why it's important to seek care right away for a neck injury or when pain persists for a week or longer. An untreated condition can worsen over time if proper care is not implemented. This worsening could then require surgical repair. Physical therapy is one of the most common nonsurgical approaches to the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain. A physical therapist is trained to improve the functional movement of the injured part of the body. Through specific exercises performed regularly, it's possible to manage neck pain and possibly even slow the progression of deterioration in the affected joint or disc.
If I Need Neck Surgery, What Can I Expect in Terms of Recovery?
There are several reasons to move forward with surgery if your doctor recommends a cervical spine procedure. By repairing the injured joint or disc, you not only regain optimal comfort but also get back a wider range of motion. You may find that you no longer rely on medication to get through the day and that you can engage in activities that you used to enjoy but had to stop due to pain and other symptoms. Your life may open up with new possibilities for activities you'd like to try, and your overall health may improve as a result of a more active life.
Many people hesitate to talk to a doctor about neck pain because they assume they'll need surgery and they assume that surgical recovery will be long and painful. This is rarely the case. There are a few different techniques that may be performed to address neck pain. These focus on areas like the spongy discs in between the cervical vertebrae or the vertebrae themselves. Most neck surgeries can be performed using minimally-invasive techniques. This means shorter incisions and also shorter recovery times. Depending on the procedure you have done, you may be back to work in as little as one week, provided that your job does not have strenuous physical demands. You may need to wear a neck brace for a short time and may need to take pain medication for a few weeks. For some procedures, it may take a few months to regain full physical activity and up to one year to be completely cleared for all levels of motion.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent Neck Pain?
Prevention is the best medicine! If you've experienced neck pain and have gotten through it, you want to do what you can to prevent a recurrence. Some of the ways to do this include:
- Work with your computer monitor at eye level. This helps you maintain better head and neck posture. Neck pain often occurs when the head is tilted forward and up or down.
- Stretch regularly. The muscles and tendons in your neck can become tight for many reasons. Having a few stretches that you can perform before bed or whenever your feel tension coming on can be helpful for avoiding pinched nerves and other pains.
- Sleep on your back. This can take some learning, but sleeping on your back rather than your side or stomach, especially with an ergonomic pillow, can maintain proper alignment in the cervical spine while you sleep.
How should I sleep with neck pain?
Sleeping on the stomach is rough on the spine. It causes the back to arch and the neck to twist. A better way to sleep is on the back or side. When sleeping on the back, a rounded pillow that supports the curve of the neck should be used.
- A feather pillow may conform nicely to the shape of the neck.
- Memory foam pillows also conform but must be selected carefully so as not to lift the head too high.
- Pillows that are too high (thick) or stiff should be avoided. They keep the neck flexed and may worsen pain and stiffness.
- Side-sleepers should use pillows that lift the neck higher than the head, similar to the curved pillow that is ideal for back-sleepers. Maintaining the curve keeps the spine in alignment.
What happens if neck pain is left untreated?
There are several reasons neck pain may occur. In most cases, the underlying problem is structural. Sometimes, the pain will resolve within a few days to a few weeks when posture improves and remedies are implemented to correct the structural alignment of the spine. While it is possible that neck pain could resolve without medical care, this is not always the case.
If neck pain increases in frequency or intensity, it is necessary to speak with a doctor. The symptoms that are occurring, including pain and radiating sensations such as numbness or tingling, could indicate that a nerve root is being adversely affected in some way. When a structural problem is causing ongoing neck pain, the problem will worsen until it is properly addressed. In addition to pain in the neck, symptoms may radiate to the head, shoulder, or arm. Insomnia may also develop due to pain throughout the night.
Treatment for patients who have neck pain can range from a few days of mild activities all the way on the other end of the spectrum to surgery. Patients with significant neck pain from an accident could possibly require a brace or surgery to properly realign the spine, fixate the fracture, and properly decompress the spinal cord or nerves.
Mild Neck Pain Treatment
Patients with mild neck pain symptoms can receive postural training, medications starting with oral anti-inflammatories, therapy, massage, braces, and possibly chiropractic treatment. We encourage you to click here to view helpful neck exercises by the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability, & Risk. These exercises can help make your neck more flexible and strong.
“Neck surgery done in November 2015 and definitely very successful one. What a relief from the chronic pain after the neck surgery. In my dictionary that is the real doctor who can free his patient from the daily torture . How can I forget to mention Victory Hospital and of course the excellent staff who has given me new life!”
When Should I Call My Doctor?
If your neck pain is associated with symptoms such as:
- Weakness in your arms
- Changes in your bowel/bladder
- Unintentional weight loss
You should also seek the assistance of a medical professional or specific spinal specialist when the pain fails to improve with light activities for a few days.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are experiencing neck pain and are interested in seeking treatment, contact our office today at 817-916-4685 to schedule a consultation. The DFW Center for Spinal Disorders serves Fort Worth and the surrounding areas.