History of Neck Pain: One in ten people suffer from chronic neck pain and 66% of adults will experience severe pain at least once in their lives. Chronic neck pain is defined as pain lasting greater than six months. There is typically no single culprit causing neck pain, but rather a combination of abnormalities causing symptoms such as stiffness, spasms, numbness/tingling.
Potential contributors to pain include injury or repetitive strain, age, gender, work environment, stress/anxiety, physical activity, illness, and psychological health.
Non-surgical treatments (conservative treatment): May be appropriate for many people with neck pain. Treatment plans are individualized based on many factors, including current or past medical conditions. Your doctor may start by recommending to modify daily activity, such as ergonomics and posture, as well prescribe the use of over-the-counter pain medications. Below are the most commonly recommended treatment options.
- Physical Therapy—aims to reduce pain by achieving increase in functional range of motion of the neck and shoulder region.
- Exercise—aims to strengthen the neck muscles. This includes stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning.
- Ultrasound—waves penetrate through the skin used to heat and relax muscles and connective tissue.
- Heat Packs/Cold Packs—aid to increase blood or decrease blood flow to help improve range of motion through reduced pain and inflammation.
- Iontophoresis and Phonophoresis—delivers medication into the muscle or connective tissue by electrical current or ultrasound.
- Cervical Traction—stretches of the muscles of the neck or upper back through a mechanical device.
- Electrical Treatments—deliver of electrical impulses to affected area to relieve pain.
- Manual Therapy—is the application of hands-on treatment to affected tissue by manipulating the muscles and connective tissue. Healthcare providers that can aid in manual therapy include: osteopathic doctors (D.O.), massage/physical therapists and chiropractors.
- Injection Therapy—include trigger point injections, botulinum toxin therapy, medial nerve blocks, epidural injections and prolotherapy.
- Complementary and Alternative Therapies—include counseling, biofeedback, acupuncture, yoga and pilates.
Having knowledge of all the options available to you is important in order to contribute to the care of your overall pain and the better results you will have. It is possible that multiple treatment options will be necessary as part of your plan including alternative and complementary treatments.
It is important to see your physician to determine the best options for your pain. Need a Neck Specialist? Schedule an appointment with an OrthoNeuro physician today.
My Neck Hurts! Nonsurgical Treatments for Neck and Upper Back Pain. Taylor, Martin T. DO, PhD. John Hopkins University Press, MD. 2010