Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues – often caused by motor vehicle / diving accidents, contact sports, or falls. Pain Management and Spine Specialist Aashish Bharara, MD, and the team at Perimeter Orthopaedics, PC in Atlanta, Georgia, evaluate and treat all types of neck pain. Their modern facility has everything you need, from on-site imaging procedures to an ambulatory surgery center. Call or book an appointment online today for complete care of neck pain.
The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments (which are comparable to thick rubber bands) and muscles provide stability to the spine. The muscles allow for support and motion.
The neck has a significant amount of motion and supports the weight of the head. However, because it is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. For many people, neck pain is a temporary condition that disappears with time. Others need medical diagnosis and treatment to relieve their symptoms.
Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues—the muscles, ligaments, and nerves—as well as in bones and disks of the spine. The most common causes of neck pain are soft-tissue abnormalities due to injury (a sprain) or prolonged wear and tear. In rare instances, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. In some people, neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders, or arms.
Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, so it can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict motion. Neck pain causes include:
• Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone, often triggers muscle strains. Even minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain neck muscles.
• Worn joints. Just like the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
• Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
• Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injury, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.
• Diseases. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer, can cause neck pain.
The disk acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration (which typically occurs in people age 40 years and older), the normal gelatin-like center of the disk degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. As the disk space narrows, added stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing further wear and degenerative disease. The cervical disk may also protrude and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots when the rim of the disk weakens. This is known as a herniated cervical disk.
Because the neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. Motor vehicle or diving accidents, contact sports, and falls may result in neck injury. The regular use of safety belts in motor vehicles can help to prevent or minimize neck injury. A "rear end" automobile collision may result in hyperextension, a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits, or hyperflexion, a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits. The most common neck injuries involve the soft tissues: the muscles and ligaments. Severe neck injuries with a fracture or dislocation of the neck may damage the spinal cord and cause paralysis.
If severe neck pain occurs following an injury (motor vehicle accident, diving accident, or fall), a trained professional, such as a paramedic, should immobilize the patient to avoid the risk of further injury and possible paralysis.
Immediate medical care should also be sought when an injury causes pain in the neck that radiates down the arms and legs. Radiating pain or numbness in your arms or legs causing weakness in the arms or legs without significant neck pain should also be evaluated. We have appointments available the same day in situations like these.
If there has not been an injury, you should seek medical care when neck pain is:
• Continuous and persistent
• Accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
• Accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling, or weakness
The expert team at Perimeter Orthopaedics, PC offers a wide range of treatments for neck pain. Depending on the type and severity of your condition, treatment for neck pain may include:
• Physical therapy
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
• Spinal Injections
• Extracorporeal shockwave therapy
• Regenerative medicine, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells
Dr. Bharara is a trained specialist in pain management and spinal injections to prevent surgery from being needed, if possible. If nonsurgical treatments fail to resolve your neck pain, or if you have a serious injury, surgery may be necessary.
To find relief from neck pain, call Perimeter Orthopaedics, PC, or book an appointment online today.
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