Most neck pain originates from minor issues, such as muscle strain due to poor posture or sleeping in an uncomfortable position, and resolves without treatment or with modest lifestyle changes. However, certain signs and symptoms are indicators that there is likely a more serious underlying problem. These include:
- Severe or excruciating pain
- The pain persists for a prolonged period of time
- Pain radiates to the shoulders or arms, especially accompanied by numbness, cold sensations, and/or weakness
- Muscle spasms or decreased range of motion
If any of the symptoms above apply to you, or if your neck pain is not improving, it may be time to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.
Neck pain may be caused by:
- Muscle strain – holding the neck in one position for too long, such as when looking at a computer screen all day, can cause muscle fatigue and lead to tightness or soreness
- Arthritis – also called osteoarthritis, it is the physical “wear-and-tear” of bones and cartilage that comes with age
- Herniated disc – the soft, gel-like center of an intervertebral disc leaks out and can compress or “pinch” a nerve
- Cervical stenosis – narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves
- Infections (e.g. meningitis, osteomyelitis)
Neck pain can also develop after an injury that has forced your head into an unexpected back-and-forth motion, for instance during a car accident. This injury is referred to as whiplash and can damage the soft tissue in your neck. Whiplash can also lead to a herniated disc or worsen preexisting conditions.
Numerous conservative therapies are used to alleviate neck pain and restore function. Some of these include:
- Anti-inflammatories and over-the-counter pain medication
- Modifying daily activities
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
However, if conservative treatments have failed to manage your neck pain, surgery may be recommended to address its root cause. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Li to determine if surgery may be right for you.