Neck pain treatment is one of the most frequently requested therapies in our offices. There are many causes of neck pain, which we discussed in our Anatomy of the Neck blog post.
Some of the current treatments for neck pain include:
- Pharmacotherapy: NSAIDs (ibuprofen-like drugs), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), muscle relaxants, and membrane-stabilizing medications are often effective in treating neck pain.
- Cervical epidural steroid injections: Epidurals are frequently used for pain syndromes due to common conditions such as degenerative disc disease. The method involves injecting a steroid into the epidural space of the spinal cord where the irritated nerve roots are located. The medicine then spreads to other levels and portions of the spine, reducing inflammation and irritation.
- Cervical facet joint injections: Facet joint injections are a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure used as treatment for many different causes of neck pain including facet joint arthritis and degenerative disc disease. They work by reducing the inflammation and irritation in the facet joints of the cervical spine that are causing you pain. The most important and greatest success achieved with the use of facet joint injections is the rapid relief of symptoms that allows patients to experience enough relief to become active again. With this, they regain the ability to resume their normal daily activities. With a minimal amount of risks, facet injections are considered an appropriate non-surgical treatment for many patients who suffer from neck pain.
- Cervical Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): RFA is a procedure in pain medicine that uses a specialized device to disrupt nerve conduction. This pain relief technique can be used by those with back pain, neck pain, muscle pain, and multiple other pain syndromes. A probe is inserted through a needle, and controlled delivery of heat is placed along a painful nerve, disabling the nerve from conducting painful signals. RFA has been used for many years, and the technique continues to improve with better efficacy and fewer risks. Patients can experience significant pain relief with a minimally-invasive procedure that does not require a hospital stay. Radiofrequency therapy can provide pain relief for six months and up to two years.
- Cervical spinal cord stimulation (SCS): This method involves tiny electrodes being placed within the epidural space close to the spinal cord. The electrodes release a small electrical current to the spinal cord that inhibits pain transmission. This inhibition of pain signals allows for pain relief.Cervical SCS is currently used for treating chronic pain syndromes such as complex regional pain syndrome, chronic neck pain, diabetic neuropathy, post herpetic neuralgia, peripheral ischemia, and other conditions that are resistant to more conservative treatments. Patients reported significant (70-90%) reductions in neck and upper extremity pain when treated by cervical SCS. Several of the patients in this particular study also benefited from a decrease in associated headache and lower extremity pain.
- Occipital nerve blocks: This method involves an injection of local anesthetic and corticosteroid over the occipital nerves (back of head). The blocks can dramatically improve pain and increase the quality of life.
- Occipital nerve stimulation: This method involves tiny electrodes being placed close to the occipital nerves (back of head). The electrodes release a small electrical current that inhibits pain transmission and causes pain relief.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This is a technique that relieves pain by applying mild electric current to the skin at the site of the pain. The electric impulses interfere with normal pain sensations and alter perceptions that were previously painful.
- Trigger point injections: These injections can be an effective treatment for muscle spasms. The procedure involves injecting a local anesthetic and steroid into a “trigger point.”
- Botox: Used in treating neck pain, this is an exciting more recent treatment that is widely accepted among modern medical practitioners. In 2005, “Botulinum toxin Type A (BtA) became the first line therapy for the treatment for cervical dystonia. Although a single injection of BtA is effective, multiple injection cycles seem to work better for patients. Botox injections have also been found to be effective in patients with whiplash injuries. Along with reductions in pain, patients were found to have improved range of motion.
- Biofeedback: This is a treatment for neck pain that teaches a patient to become aware of processes that are normally thought to be involuntary inside of the body (such as blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate control). This method enables one to gain some conscious control of these processes, which can influence and improve the level of pain. A better awareness of one’s body teaches one to effectively relax, and this can help to relieve pain.
- Physical therapy: In order to decrease or prevent functional limitations, physical therapy and occupational therapy are recommended as well as medical treatments. Physical therapy for neck pain aims to increase range of motion and muscular strength.Please visit our physical therapy page to learn more about our PT facility in Victoria, our staff and treatment options.
- Nutrition and exercise: Exercise improves neck pain by increasing flexibility and range of motion. Another benefit is the release of hormones called endorphins that are your body’s natural pain relievers. Nutrition and healthy eating may be powerful treatments to combat nutritional deficits.
- Massage: Gentle focal rubbing of tender areas may help relieve muscle spasms or contractions and improve the discomfort associated with it. Massage can also help you relax, decreasing stress and tension.
Clearly, many treatment options are available for chronic pain, headaches, reduced range of motion and more. If you have additional questions about options for your neck pain treatment, please call and schedule an appointment with our staff. We want you to feel better and get back to your life!