Neck pain is extremely common and can occur in any age group. Patients will usually experience a dull ache around the neck or shoulder blades, or sharp pain or numbness in the shoulder, arm or hand. Headaches frequently occur as a result of neck pain.
Conditions that cause neck pain include:
- Bulging or Herniated Disks – Pain and/or numbness usually travels into the arm or hand. Patient may experience arm tingling, numbness or weakness.
- Cervical Radiculopathy – Herniated disks in the neck “pinch” nerves and cause pain and numbness in the arm.
- Cervical Spinal Stenosis – Neck pain, shoulder weakness and numbness. Patients may experience loss of balance and dizziness.
- Facet Joint Arthritis – Neck pain that travels into the shoulder and into the scalp. Patient may experience headaches.
- Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease – Neck pain that may travel into the shoulder, arm or hand. Patient may experience stiffness and difficulty turning the head.
The physicians at Unique Pain Medicine of New York will find the reason for your neck pain, and will offer the most effective treatment to eliminate it!
We offer Neck Pain Treatments in our Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. The evaluation and treatment of neck pain conditions is covered by all health insurance plans.
Most Common Neck Pain Conditions
Below are some some of the most common neck pain conditions. The best way to treat neck pain is with a proper diagnosis. Our team of award winning doctors will work with you to find the the root cause of your neck pain and provide the correct treatment.
Cervical Bulging / Herniated Disks
A bulging disc occurs when a weakened disc shifts outside of its normal housing between bones. Disks are made up of jelly like material. When disks herniate, this material leaks out and comes into contact with nerves, causing symptoms. This usually occurs gradually as we age, or as a result of an acute injury or trauma.
Bulging disks are common and only require treatment when they produce symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Neck pain or stiffness.
- Pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that radiates into the arm or hand.
- Pain or weakness in the back of the shoulder blade.
Cervical Radiculopathy – Pain, numbness or weakness in the shoulder, arm, and/or fingers.
This is usually secondary to a herniated disk in the cervical spine. The nerves that exit the neck become “pinched” and inflamed. Patients often experience pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the arm and hand. It is common for the fingers to go numb.
If cervical herniated disks are causing symptoms, they require an evaluation and possible treatment. This is important in order to prevent further progression of the disease.
Cervical Herniated Discs FAQ
How do you diagnose a cervical herniated disc?
An MRI should be ordered if a cervical herniated disk is suspected. This will reveal which discs are involved and to what degree.
How do you treat herniated disk?
Herniated disks only need treatment if they are causing symptoms. Conservative measures include rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. If conservative measures fail, or if pain is severe, an epidural steroid injection is attempted. If all conservative treatments fail, surgery may be warranted, although this is rare.
How long does it take for a herniated disk to heal?
Pain from a herniated disc may take from a few weeks to several months to improve, depending on the treatment course selected and the degree of nerve involvement.
How do you know if you have a herniated disk?
If you have symptoms of a herniated disk, your doctor should order an MRI, which will confirm the diagnosis.
What causes a herniated disk?
Herniated disks can occur slowly due to age related changes, due to trauma or accident, from a sports injury or lifting heavy weights, or from being over-weight.
Can a herniated disk in the neck heal itself?
It is not likely for a herniated disk to heal itself. However, old herniated disks usually do not cause any symptoms unless the nerves around the disk become inflamed.
Can a cervical bulging disc cause headaches and dizziness?
Yes, bulging discs in the neck can cause headaches and dizziness. This is secondary to arthritis of the cervical spine.
Can a herniated disk be fixed without surgery?
Yes! In fact, surgery is rarely warranted. Physical therapy, rest, anti-inflammatory medication and injection therapy will usually resolve the episode.
Treatments for Cervical Radiculopathy and Herniated Disks include:
- Physical Therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications and nerve pain medication
- Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection – an injection of steroid medication into the cervical epidural space. This greatly decreases pain, swelling and inflammation in the cervical spine. This is a potentially surgery saving procedure.
What is a cervical epidural steroid injection?
If cervical herniated disks are causing symptoms and more conservative approaches have failed, an epidural steroid injection should be attempted. The doctor will place an anti-inflammatory steroid medication around the inflamed nerves. The injection is done at the C7-T1 level. This causes rapid pain relief and decreases the swelling around pinched nerves and damaged discs. The procedure is generally not painful and is done in the office setting. There is no downtime after.
Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease
This is age related wear and tear on the disks and bones of the cervical spine. This occurs to some degree in all people as we age. This is a major cause of cervical herniated disks, and frequently leads to arthritis of the cervical spine.
What causes cervical degenerative disk disease?
There are many causes, but the most common include normal aging, trauma, obesity, smoking, genetic and rheumatologic.
What kind of doctor treats cervical disk degenerative disease?
Pain management doctors can successfully treat this condition, help manage symptoms and prevent progression.
Treatments for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease include:
- Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection
- Medial branch block / Facet injection
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Physical Therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Facet Joint Arthritis
Cervical facet joint arthritis or arthropathy is a common cause of neck pain and neck stiffness due to degeneration and arthritis in the cervical spine. The neck pain associated with this condition usually does not radiate into the arms. This condition sometimes causes headaches, as the nerves that travel into the head are affected. The pain is usually described as dull and achy, and it may be difficult to turn your head to the affected side. The pain can radiate into the back of the shoulder blade. Range of motion is typically decreased. This can occur in professionals who spend a lot of time in front of a computer.
Can facet joint arthritis be cured?
While facet joint arthritis cannot be cured completely, there are various treatment options that would greatly reduce pain and inflammation.
What causes facet joint arthritis?
Age related wear and tear, prior sports injury or trauma, and obesity are common causes.
Treatments for Facet Joint Arthritis include:
- Medial branch block / Facet injection – Injection of local anesthetic around the facet joint. Patient should experience almost immediate pain relief.
- Radiofrequency ablation – Heat is applied to the nerves that cause pain. This provides relief for a period of 6 months to 1.5 years.
- Physical Therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Cervical spinal stenosis results in stiffness, pain, numbness, or weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms or hands. Individuals with this condition often experience balance and coordination problems such as shuffling or tripping while walking. Cervical spinal stenosis can be disabling if the spinal cord is damaged.
What is the treatment for cervical spinal stenosis?
The treatment starts with anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and cervical epidural steroid injection. Treatment is usually successful in alleviating the inflammatory response and leads to a resolution of symptoms. Surgery can usually be avoided.
What can happens if cervical spinal stenosis is left untreated?
The narrowing can lead to compression of the spinal cord and if progression is severe, this can lead to paralysis.
Is cervical spinal stenosis progressive?
Cervical spinal stenosis is not always progressive, but in certain individuals, it can become progressive and lead to nerve damage. Proper follow up is important, especially if there is a change in symptoms.
Is surgery necessary for severe cervical spinal stenosis?
Yes, if there is moderate to severe compression of the spinal cord and the patient is symptomatic.
Treatments for Cervical spinal stenosis include:
- Epidural steroid injection
- Surgical decompression
Neck Pain and Headaches
Neck pain and headaches frequently occur together. Headaches can originate from the small nerves in the neck. The cause of the headache must be properly established in order to provide the most optimal treatment. If traditional migraine treatments are not working, its possible that the cause of the headache is cervicogenic. Cervicogenic headaches are concentrated in the back of the head. The treatment for cervicogenic headaches is very different than traditional migraine treatment. Our doctors are trained to identify the exact location of the headache and will provide the most effective treatment that is specific to your condition.
Treatments for migraines include:
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