Chronic neck pain affects the lives of many adults and seniors, and it is the fourth leading cause of disability globally. In fact, it has a prevalence rate that exceeds 30% annually in the US. In addition, approximately 50% of individuals will experience a degree of chronic neck pain at some point in life. And 20% to 70% among adults, will experience neck pain which will affect their activities.
Neck pain can be acute or chronic and is usually the result of a nerve injury. Fortunately, neck pain doesn’t indicate a serious problem and can be relieved in a few days. Read on to discover the symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention of chronic neck pain.
What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain is the pain or stiffness in or around the cervical spine found underneath your head. It is a common symptom of medical conditions and many different injuries.
- Stabbing or burning pain
- A persistent ache
- Stiff neck
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Increased sensitivity to mild pressure
What Causes Neck Pain?
Your neck consists of ligaments, bones, and muscles, and any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain. However, about 10% of neck pain is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, tumors, polymyalgia rheumatica, pinched nerve, herniated disc, and infections. The pain occurs due to many different injuries and medical issues. Some of the common causes of neck pain include:
- Neck Injury: Car accidents, contact sports, and falls cause severe neck injuries. The trauma caused forces your neck or head to suddenly move in the opposite direction (whiplash), leading to soreness or pain.
- Aging: Degenerative issues like narrowing of the spine spaces (spinal stenosis) and tear and wear of the joint cartilage (osteoarthritis) cause neck pain as you age.
- Physical Muscle Strain: Engaging in repetitive tasks or strenuous activities daily causes neck muscles to strain, resulting in pain.
- Mental stress: Tightening neck muscles when tense causes neck pain.
- Poor Posture: Sitting for prolonged periods causes neck muscles and tissues to tighten up, causing severe pain.
What Treatments are Available?
Chronic neck pain treatments vary depending on the cause. They help ease pain and enhance function. Some of the common treatments for severe pain include:
- Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin help ease the pain. Your doctor will recommend prescription pain medications like:
- Muscle relaxers
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Opioid analgesics
- Physical Therapy: Neck strengthening and stretching exercises like side-to-side, backward, and forward bends help ease severe pain. Once your doctor diagnoses your pain level, they may advise you to see a physical therapist for stretching exercises.
- Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS): This treatment involves releasing mild electric pulses under the affected area’s skin. It aims to block the nerve endings in the region from sending pain signals to your brain, easing pain.
- Topical Anesthetic Cream: Camphor or menthol products temporarily relieve joint and muscle pain.
- Injections: Your doctor injects pain medications into the neck joints or muscles to relieve severe neck pain. They may use injections such as numbing medications or a steroid, like cortisone.
How To Prevent Neck Pain
Nearly 72% of all neck pain stems from repetitive (work-related) injury and poor posture. To prevent chronic neck pain, adopt practices that help keep your back straight and your head centered over your spine. Here are a few things to try:
- Maintain good posture when standing and sitting
- Adopt a healthy sleeping position
- Adjust your computer, chair, or desk to avoid straining your neck
- Perform physical therapy exercises to help stretch and strengthen your neck muscles
- Take frequent breaks and rests
- Avoid lifting heavy objects to prevent straining your neck
Let Our Team Help You Today
With conventional medications, chronic neck pain isn’t severe in most cases and disappears in a few days. If the pain continues for over a week, you must see a doctor. The pain could be a symptom of an illness or injury.
At Progressive Pain Management, we offer interventional pain procedures and medications to manage and relieve chronic neck pain. Our certified physicians have incredible expertise and experience in providing the best pain management treatments. Ready to meet our physicians? Fill out the form below to contact us.
Spinal cord stimulation therapy is a pain treatment that masks the pain signal before they reach the brain. A device similar to a pacemaker is implanted in the body and delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord. This is an option for patients with chronic, leg, or arm pain.
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a small device that is placed under the skin and transmits a mild, low-frequency electric current to the spinal cord. A tiny wire transfers the pulse to the nerve fibers. The SCS minimizes pain because the current modifies and hides the pain signals from reaching the brain.
It is important to note that spinal cord stimulation therapy does not get rid of the source of the pain. It simply runs interference with the signal to the brain. This means that pain relief can vary depending on the patient. The SCS device produces a slight tingling sensation.. It is this sensation that overrides the pain signals. Pain signals travel on the small nerve fibers, whereas the fabricated signals from the SCS travel on larger, more dominant nerves fibers.
The goal of spinal cord stimulation is not to completely erase pain, but to provide a 50-70% reduction. Even the slightest bit of pain relief can be helpful to someone who suffers regularly. Before a permanent spinal cord stimulator is implanted, each patient undergoes a trial to make sure this type of therapy will be effective and reduce their pain.
Why is SCS Used?
Spinal cord stimulation is used to treat neuropathic pain. This is pain that originates from nerve damage. The nerve damage could be caused by injury, accident, or trauma. Patients who are prime candidates for SCS have typically suffered from chronic pain in the lower back, leg, or arm. Commonly, these patients have also had previous surgeries.
More frequently, SCS is being used to avoid back surgery. Other leading causes for receiving SCS therapy is complex regional pain syndrome and peripheral neuropathic pain. Nerve pain that spans beyond damage to the brain and spinal cord, such as from an infection or even amputation or diabetes, is another reason that SCS may be recommended by your physician.
More recently, SCS therapy has been proven to treat a number of chronic visceral pain types, such as abdominal or pelvic pain.
Spinal cord stimulation therapy is used when other treatment types have not been effective in reducing chronic pain or if the patient does not want to undergo surgery. Fortunately, there are no pre-existing medical conditions that would prevent someone from receiving this type of therapy. If you have pain that is caused by a correctable problem (meaning it could be fixed by having surgery or other interventional treatments), SCS is a viable option for reducing your pain.
This type of therapy is more effective when utilized in the earlier stages of a chronic disease or condition, rather than later when a disability has been established.
SCS therapy is used to reduce these types of pain:
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: When initial surgery (or surgeries) have been ineffective in reducing pain on a consistent basis.
- Sciatica or Arm Pain: Persistent pain caused by arthritis, spinal stenosis, or extensive nerve damage.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: When patients experience severe chronic pain, typically in their hands or feet.
- Arachnoiditis: This is painful inflammation and scarring of the protective lining of spinal nerves
Other types of pain caused by stump pain, peripheral vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, or a spinal cord injury may be reduced by the use of a spinal cord stimulator.
Benefits of Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation therapy reduces the number of abnormal pain signals from reaching the brain. However, it also helps the body restore pain-inhibition pathways that have been lost. Pain-inhibitory pathways essentially work as a gate-keeper. They control how much pain is received by the brain. SCS therapy harnesses the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals that are used by nerve fibers to communicate with each other. Not only does this whole process reduce pain, but it increases microcirculation.
It is reported that 50-70% of patients who are candidates for SCS therapy experience 50% reduction in pain. An even higher proportion can expect to experience a 30% reduction in pain levels. For many patients who suffer from chronic pain, even the smallest amount of pain relief is welcomed. This has a profound effect on improving the quality of life in patients who have suffered from long-term chronic pain.
Learn more about spinal cord stimulation and how it works for treating chronic pain, fill out the form below and get in touch with the team at Progressive Pain Management today.
Over 26% of Americans suffer from arthritis pain. And while there are medications for reducing arthritis pain, many patients want relief from their pain without taking pills.
Fortunately, treatment options are evolving, and arthritis patients can decide their treatment path alongside their physicians. Having options means creating a treatment plan that fits the patient’s lifestyle, their needs, wants, and corresponds to the severity of their pain.
Commonly, a combination of treatments is most effective for alleviating pain.
Treatment Options for Arthritis Pain
- Physical Therapy
Pain specialists often recommend physical therapy to ease arthritis pain. This type of exercise helps strengthen muscles, reduces joint stiffness, and improves range of motion. Your physical therapist will create an exercise plan to improve your ability to perform daily activities like walking, standing, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of the bathtub.
Physical therapy does not always reduce pain in all arthritis patients, but it can help strengthen the ligaments and muscles that support joints and bones causing pain.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
All pain is transferred on small fibers of the nervous system. Those fibers travel from the affected area to the brain where pain is perceived. What Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation does is transmit a signal that masks the pain signals. The electrical current triggers the brain to release endorphins and enkephalins, opiate-like chemicals in the body that relieve pain.
TENS effectively treats any kind of arthritis pain.
- Trigger Point Injections
Trigger points are hard “knots” of painful muscles. When arthritis causes muscle pain, trigger points are a common symptom. These injections consist of an anesthesia and corticosteroid that is injected into the painful trigger points. Inserting a needle into the bundle of painful muscles allow the muscle tissue to go back to its normal structure.
- Heat/Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy is a temporary fix, but may relieve pain. Heat increases blood flow to the painful area and relaxes the muscles. Cold reduces swelling and inflammation. Cold sensations travel on large nerve fibers, whereas pain signals travel on small nerve fibers. This masks the pain signals.
Heat should be applied two or three times a day for 15-minute intervals. Cold compresses can be applied three or four times a day for 15-minute intervals or until the swelling has reduced.
- Mind-Body Relaxation Techniques
Learning techniques that help relax your body and your mind can help manage your pain. There is a psychological aspect of chronic pain that can be controlled through the use of meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, and relaxation. These methods help decrease stress, therefore decreasing inflammation and pain. Meditating for 20 minutes a day helps relax muscles that tense up with pain.
Breathing exercises have been associated with a decrease in depression, another common symptom of chronic pain like arthritis. Mind-body techniques work on focusing your mind and harnessing negative thoughts that can increase your perception of pain. Practicing meditation and regular relaxation techniques reduces the brain’s response to pain.
Progressive Pain Management has a team of experts skilled in treating all forms of chronic pain caused by arthritis and can help you find the relief you are looking for. Fill out the form below to get started.