What is Cervical Neck Pain? Prevention, Treatment & More in South Florida!
Let's talk about cervical care. Cervical pain, otherwise known as cervicalgia or more commonly - neck pain is one of the main reasons patients seek orthopedic intervention. 15% to 20% of people report neck pain in any given year and 22% to 70% will experience cervical pain at some point - with the overall incidence increasing. Cervical main is more common in women over 45 years of age. Cervical pain is also second only to lower back pain when it comes to annual workers' compensation. The ramifications of disability and economic costs are substantial, having a significant impact on patients, their families, business, and the healthcare system. Pain in the cervical/neck area affects and disrupts the quality of life in most patients. There are 7 cervical vertebrae. The area also consists of muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs, and nerves. The neck is also the smallest, spinal area making it more susceptible to repeated stress that can cause both acute and chronic injury. The two basic types of cervical pain are axial pain which is mostly felt in the cervical spine and radicular pain which radiates along the nerves. Most common cervical pain issues are related to intervertebral discs.
Most neck pain is not serious and will resolve in a matter of days. Symptoms include pain that is either sharp or dull, neck stiffness, shoulder pain, and in some cases, accompanying headaches and/or dizziness. Unfortunately, many patients experience recurring, chronic pain that lingers. Cervical pain is often caused by poor posture while at work, muscle strains, impact sports, diving, disorders of the discs, or injuries such as whiplash - caused by car accidents. The most common cause of acute neck pain is myofascial injury from repetitive work, poor posture, and heavy lifting.
Other causes of chronic pain, in particular, include:
Degenerative Disc Disease
Radiculopathy - Pinched Nerves
Head and neck cancer
Diagnosis is key. Specialists such as Dr. Maria Alejandra De La Peña at Spine and Wellness Centers of American are able to use state of the art diagnostic tools together with a world of knowledge and real-world experience to diagnose causes of cervical pain. Diagnosis starts with a complete medical history that includes occupation and lifestyle, a physical exam including the range of motion, and muscle power tests. The next step would be imaging studies such as a Neck X-ray, CT scan, and/or an MRI.
With a diagnosis in hand, Dr. De La Peña will then recommend specific treatments and procedures to address the condition with the aim of restoring the patient to optimum health. For chronic cervical pain, there may not be a quick fix or a complete cure. However, the following are methods employed by Dr. De La Peña that are designed to alleviate discomfort and ultimately protect and prevent further injury. Physical Therapy can help in the treatment of cervical pain. A specialized exercise regime can help build strength in order to maintain flexibility and stability in the spine.
For classic Cervical Pain the following treatments may be recommended:
Epidural Spinal Injection - The epidural space is located between the spine and vertebrae. Medication such as corticosteroids or anesthetic can be injected into this space using a needle. This treatment can result in blocking inflammatory chemicals that cause the nerve receptors to sense pain. In this way, pain is reduced. There are a number of different epidural injections to target nerves in the neck. This procedure is done in-office with minimal downtime.
Cervical Facet Joint Injections - Also known as a facet block, the purpose of these injections is to block the pain. Cervical facet joints are the small joints on the back of the neck. Time-release cortisone - a pregnane steroid hormone - is injected into these joints to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. This procedure is also used to deliver a definitive diagnosis of cervical pain from the facet joints. Fluoroscopy (an X-ray) is used to guide the needle to the targeted location and contrast dye is administered before the cortisone is injected. The process is performed in-office and from the time of patient check-in to checkout, the procedure only takes 1 to 2 hours. The procedure itself takes less than 15 minutes.
Radiofrequency Ablation - This procedure makes use of radio waves to create heat which is then used to effectively kill the tissue. Aimed at nerve tissue, RF Ablation provides relief from pain that hasn't responded to other treatments. This treatment option also results in longer-term pain relief than nerve blocks or other types of injections. The patient is first administered an IV of drugs to relax them, however, the patient needs to stay alert during the procedure to help with the placement of the electrode. The doctor then uses an X-ray to guide two needles to the targeted place next to the nerve in question. A small electrode is placed inside the needle. At this point, a tiny radiofrequency current is then directed to the medial branch of the nerve for 60 to 90 seconds. The radiofrequency creates heat which destroys the nerve tissue that is delivering pain signals to the brain. The procedure is done in-office using the highest standard of sterile technique. Relief from pain may last six months to a year.
Regenerative Medicine Regenerative Medicine exists as a solution for both treating injury and may be beneficial as a preventative measure. These options are also minimally-invasive. Highly trained, experienced and board-certified doctors like Dr. De La Peña are skilled in the most cutting edge procedures that utilize all that regenerative and preventive medicine has to offer. Stem Cell therapy, for instance, is a powerful method of healing that can repair strained or torn tendons and ligaments resulting in quicker recovery and a strengthened body. These regenerative options, such as PRP, can be used as the main treatment or in conjunction with more conventional approaches. Best of all, these therapies use the body’s own materials to speed recovery while encouraging new tissue growth.
Research Study: We are conducting a national research study on Lipogems Stem Cell therapy that is FDA approved. The study is going to be for lumbar facet arthritis and shoulder rotator cuff injuries. If interested in participating please call our office today at 305.974.5533
TELEMEDICINE We are currently taking appointments for in person as well as Telemedicine. For a Telemedicine consultation you will need to have access to a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Please call our office to learn more at 305.974.5533