Neck Pain Pain Management in Knoxville, TNNeck pain is a common condition that typically affects adults in their 30s and 40s. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, every 3 months around 15% of Americans experience an episode of neck pain. The pain can vary in intensity from mild to severe and can either come on suddenly or build up slowly over time. In this article, we will take a closer look at various sources of neck pain, how it can be treated, and the best treatment plan for neck pain in Knoxville, TN.
What are the causes of neck pain?The neck is comprised of the first 7 segments of the spine, which include bones (vertebrae), spinal discs, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. This section – called the cervical spine – has the most flexibility and the least protection compared to the rest of the spine, making it particularly vulnerable to injury. Because all the nerves responsible for body sensation have to pass through the neck part of the spinal column, damage to this area can be serious and affect the rest of the body. According to a 2009 review published in the leading international medical journal The Lancet, about 5% of the population suffer from neck pain, more commonly women than men. Fortunately, the majority of neck pain incidents are not a cause for concern and get better within a few days or weeks. Let’s look at the most common causes of neck pain.
Muscle strainMuscle or ligament strain is the most common cause of neck pain. It can arise from holding the neck at the same angle for a long time, for example, looking at a screen or sleeping in an uncomfortable position. In this case, the pain usually goes away on its own within a week or two.
InjuryA hard fall or a car accident are common causes of neck injury. Depending on the severity, it might only affect the muscles or result in disc herniation or nerve damage. A specific type of neck injury that is common during car crashes is called whiplash – a rapid jerk forward and back again, causing tears in the muscles. Any neck injury resulting from trauma should be treated as a medical emergency due to a risk of paralysis. If the neck pain persists after 3 months, it is considered chronic. The most common causes of chronic pain, which accounts for 10% of all neck pain cases, are:
Cervical spondylosisThe intervertebral discs are the soft cushions between the bones that act as shock absorbers. As we age, they wear down and increase the friction between the vertebrae, causing pain and stiffness in the neck. This condition is called cervical spondylosis and is more common in the older population.
Cervical radiculopathy (a pinched nerve)A compressed nerve in the neck can cause sharp pain, numbness, or tingling sensation that often radiates to the shoulders and forearms. The nerve may become inflamed and irritated by:
- a herniated disc (a disc that was damaged to the point of rupture)
- spinal stenosis (a degenerative narrowing of a spinal canal)
- arthritis (swelling of the joints)
- Radiating pain, numbness, or tingling in the arms and legs
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Poor coordination or balance
- Fever or unexplained weight loss
- Severe headache with a stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
How is the root cause of neck pain diagnosed?It is not always possible to identify exactly what is causing the neck pain as the tendons, muscles, and nerves in that area of the spine are so close together. First, a doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms, lifestyle, occupation, and whether they have been in any accidents recently. Next, he or she will perform a physical exam that involves feeling (palpating) the neck and checking the range of motion in the head as well as reflexes and muscle strength in the arms. A compressed nerve in the neck may be diagnosed with the help of a method called a Spurling’s test. The doctor turns the patient’s head to the side and gently presses on the top. If the pain is reproduced, a pinched nerve may be to blame. If the doctor suspects a serious condition or a specific cause of the pain, imaging techniques such as x-ray, CT, or MRI scans, might be performed. They are not always beneficial as many people can have degenerative changes in their spine that don’t cause any symptoms, but these scans can help rule out or confirm a serious disease.
How is neck pain treated?Although neck pain can be severe and debilitating, most episodes are not serious and get better within days or weeks. Treatment is typically focused on pain management during the recovery period, such as:
- Over-the-counter painkillers (Ibuprofen, Tylenol)
- Lowering activity levels, especially the movements that aggravate the symptoms
- Physical therapy, for example, stretching and strengthening exercises
- Muscle relaxants
- Cervical collar to stabilize and support the neck
- Steroid injections that reduce inflammation and provide pain relief by injecting a corticosteroid and anesthetic solution into the affected area of the neck.
ConclusionNeck pain is a common medical complaint with many possible origins. The majority of cases are caused by muscle strains or injuries, but degeneration of the spine and some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, can also cause pain in the neck. If your pain is not going away and making it difficult for you to maintain your day-to-day life, our Knoxville neck pain doctor at Omega Pain Management can help you with pain management advice. If your symptoms are severe and are not limited to neck pain, urgent medical attention might be necessary.
Getting Relief For Neck Pain in Knoxville, TNIf you’re suffering from chronic neck pain, you’re certainly not alone. If pain is affecting your quality of life, preventing you from doing activities or making you miserable on-the-job, it’s important that you make the decision to take control of your health. Your neck and back pain doesn’t have to be debilitating, but you’ll need a team of experienced medical practitioners to help you in your path to healing. For this, you will need a trusted pain management team to work with. Omega Pain Management works with our patients to develop a comprehensive neck pain treatment in Knoxville that help minimize pain and other symptoms and begin to work toward recovery. Contact Dr. Igor Smelyansky, MD for Knoxville pain management. Call (865) 337-5137
Chow RT, Johnson MI, Lopes-Martins RA, Bjordal JM (December 2009). “Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials”. Lancet. 374 (9705): 1897–908. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61522-1
Binder AI. Neck pain. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008 Aug 4;2008:1103. PMID: 19445809; PMCID: PMC2907992.
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