Imaging Electromyogram And Nerve Conduction Tests
You may not need X-rays or other imaging tests. But tests may help if your neck pain doesn’t get better, especially when:
- You have signs of nerve damage.
- Another serious problem is suspected.
- The cause of your condition cannot be clearly identified.
- Non-surgical treatment has not improved your condition and you are considering surgery.
- Your doctor is asked to provide documentation of your condition, such as when a lawsuit or an insurance issue is involved.
Besides X-rays, tests may include:
- MRI, which can help identify problems such as a herniated disc or a pinched nerve.
- CT scan, which looks at the bone and spinal canal.
- Myelogram, which looks at the spinal canal and nerve roots.
- Electromyogram and nerve conduction studies or nerve blocks, which can help find a nerve problem that is causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the arm or hand.
Neck Pain Tip : Move It
Research is showing that exercise is an effective way to treat neck pain. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women with chronic neck pain who performed strength and endurance exercises using resistance bands and light weights significantly reduced their neck pain and disability. It’s also important to keep active in general. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise every day can keep your back muscles strong. And improved blood flow from exercise can nourish your spine help to keep it healthy. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or a personal trainer with expertise in working with people with neck pain to determine the right exercises for you.
What Is Neck Pain
Neck pain is pain that is felt in the upper part of the spine. It is sign that the joints, muscles or other parts of the neck are injured, strained or not working properly. Neck pain is very common, with about one in 10 people having it at any given time, but it is not usually a sign of arthritis or any other serious medical problem.
Neck pain is common and is rarely due to serious disease. Staying active will help you get better faster and prevent more problems.
Recommended Reading: What To Eat To Avoid Rheumatoid Arthritis
Stretches That Will Relieve Neck Pain And Tension
Stiff neck? The area above your shoulders is one that commonly holds tension, especially if you’re sitting at a desk all day or constantly staring down at your phone screen.
According to research, neck pain may feel like a “kink,” stiffness or severe pain. This pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, or it may trigger headaches and cause numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms.
In general, neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders. And technology is one of the major culprits. As a culture we put our necks through hell with our reliance on technology, which creates forward head carriage, and results in neck muscles that go into spasm and refer pain into our heads, temples, and even behind our eyes, says Brad Butler, chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions.
“The most common causes of neck pain are either postural or positional. The modern-day life style of sitting at a desk looking over a computer for multiple hours unfortunately leads to a forward head position where the skull moves forward of its placement on the first cervical vertebra,” says Lara Heimann, physical therapist and creator of LYT Style Yoga. “Every millimeter that the skull is off-center places a strain on the posterior neck muscles. These muscles on the back of the neck have a chronic stress and load on them that creates tension and pain.
Foods To Avoid With Arthritis
There are foods that easily trigger inflammation and make arthritis worse. You should avoid or reduce the intake of these foods as much as you possibly can:
Processed and Processed FoodsProcessed and fried foods such as fried meat, pastries, and canned vegetables increase inflammation and weaken the bodys immune system.
AGEsAGE stands for advanced glycation end product. Its a toxin thats found in foods that have been grilled, fried, pasteurized, or heated. Your body uses cytokines which are inflammatory messengers to break down AGEs. This may result in the development of arthritis and other types of inflammation.
Refined Carbs and SugarFoods with high amounts of sugar like soda, white-flour pastries, and candy increase AGEs in your body so it becomes more prone to inflammation.
Alcohol and TobaccoAlcohol consumption could lead to the development of diseases like gout that cause problems to your joints. This raises the risk of developing arthritis. Smoking tobacco reduces the effectiveness of drugs taken for arthritis pain. It also makes it difficult to exercise so you will not be able to relieve the pain of arthritis.
Read Also: How To Keep Arthritis At Bay
How Cervical Osteoarthritis Develops
Pairs of small facet joints run down the back of your cervical spine. Each of your facet joints is lined with cartilage. This cartilage is surrounded by a capsule filled with synovial fluid, which lubricates your facet joints and enables smooth movements between adjacent vertebrae.
Your Neck Pain Could Actually Be Neck Arthritis
That achy stiffness youre experiencing might be more than just a pain in the neck. It could actually be cervical spondylosis but the good news is, there are steps you can take to help relieve it.
Here at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Phoenix and Sun City West, Arizona, Drs. Abhishiek Sharma and Erik Curtis, along with our highly trained team, offer personalized neurological care including physical therapy, medication, complementary treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic, and as a last resort, minimally invasive surgery. Whether you have a spinal condition, chronic pain, epilepsy, neurotrauma, or another issue, we provide a friendly, comfortable environment with physicians and staff who make you a full partner in your care.
Below, wed like to offer you information on neck arthritis what it is, how to know youre at risk, signs to look for, and available treatments.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Arthritis Pain In The Knee
Can You Prevent Neck Pain
You can avoid neck pain caused by stress or muscle strain with some new habits. Avoid spending a lot of time in positions that stress your neck. This can include sitting at a computer for a long time.
If your neck pain is worse at the end of the day, think about how you sit during the day. Sit straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Take short breaks several times an hour.
If your neck pain is worse in the morning, check your pillow and the position you sleep in. Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted or bent.
When To See A Physician
Using home remedies for mild cases of pain or discomfort from neck arthritis is fine, but there are some occasions when checking in with your doctor is important. Symptoms that may require you to visit your physician for your cervical spondylosis may include:
- Pain or tenderness in multiple joints
- Redness and swelling in your joints that does not resolve within a few days
- Pain or swelling that limits your normal functional activity
- Pain that is accompanied by fever, malaise, or sudden and unexplained weight loss
Since cervical spondylosis is a wear and tear condition, you may notice that you have some good days and some bad days. Most often, your home remedies should be able to help you maintain mobility and function when your pain increases.
Keeping the pain at bay may be done with exercise and with gentle stretches. If your neck pain from spondylosis lasts for more than a few weeks, check in with your doctor.
You May Like: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Thumb
When You Should Consider Surgery
For most people with arthritis of the neck, time and nonsurgical measures will relieve the discomfort. But if you have a herniated disk that causes spinal nerve compression with symptoms like pain, weakness and numbness that dont go away, it may be time to consider surgery.
One way to surgically correct a pinched nerve is with a diskectomy. The surgeon removes part of the damaged disk to relieve pressure on the nerve. Then the vertebrae may be fused or welded together to stabilize the spine. Another surgical option is a posterior foraminotomy, which widens the opening of the spine where the nerve passes through, and removes any bone spurs that are pressing on the nerve.
Compression of the spinal cord can be treated several ways surgically. They all create more space for the nerves. Anterior decompression and fusion surgery is similar to the treatment of a pinched nerve. Cord compression can also be addressed by removing a part of the vertebra called the lamina or a procedure called a laminoplasty.
The vast majority of people with a pinched nerve will improve following surgery. People with spinal cord compression also improve, but the extent of improvement depends on the severity of neurological dysfunction before the surgery, says Dr. Mroz.
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.
Exercises To Help Neck Pain
The goal of exercises for neck pain is to relieve tense muscles and improve your range of motion. A stiff and sore neck can make it hard to turn your head or engage in physical activity. These exercises focus on deliberate stretches and motions to reduce pain and tension without injury.
One of the simplest motions you can do to relieve neck pain is nodding. The goal for this stretch is to keep your shoulders straight. This helps you actually stretch your neck muscles instead of compensating with other muscles.
Step 1: Sit or stand with an upright posture, and your shoulders relaxed. Look straight ahead.
Step 2: Slowly look down, lowering your chin towards your chest. Stop when you feel a gentle stretch in your neck and hold the position for up to thirty seconds.
Step 3: Slowly return your head to a neutral position.
Repeat this three to five times a day, or whenever you feel neck tension.
Side to Side Tilts
This exercise helps stretch the muscles on the sides of your neck, relieving muscle tension, and helping reduce pain.
Step 1: Sit or stand with good posture and look straight ahead.
Step 2: Gently lean your head to the left, aiming your left ear at your shoulder. Hold this position for up to thirty seconds, then return your head to neutral.
Step 3: Repeat on your right side.
Side to Side Rotations
If your neck is stiff and it’s difficult to look to the side, this is a useful exercise to regain your range of motion.
Step 3: Return to a neutral position.
You May Like: Is Heat Good For Arthritis
Can Arthritis Be Cured
Arthritis has no cure because the degeneration of joints is an inevitable process. Treatment is mostly geared towards slowing down the progression of the disease, minimizing joint damage, relieving pain, easing inflammation, and ensuring you retain the ability to function physically.
A combination of treatment options is used to achieve the goals above. They include physical therapy, medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Exercise Alternative: Front Shoulder Raise
While the military press requires use of several muscle groups surrounding the neck, shoulders, and shoulder blades, the main target of overhead pressing is strengthening the deltoids, specifically the anterior or front portion of the muscle. An alternative exercise to strengthen the shoulders and increase activation of the anterior deltoid muscle that decreases strain on the neck is the front shoulder raise.
Holding a pair of light dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing toward the sides of your body, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms straight out in front of you. Bring the dumbbells up to shoulder height, hold for one second, then slowly lower them back to the starting position. Your elbows should stay extended the entire time while performing this exercise.
Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Doctor Treats Arthritis Of The Spine
When To See A Doctor
If your neck pain lasts more than a few days, you should see a healthcare professional. You should also speak to them if you:
- have symptoms other than pain and stiffness
- have pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms or legs
- have sudden severe pain after a fall or injury
- suddenly develop neck stiffness along with difficulty lifting both arms above your head.
Some rare causes of neck pain include:
- a fracture
- inflammation which can happen in ankylosing spondylitis or meningitis.
If you suspect you have any of the above, see your doctor urgently.
The most common symptoms are:
Stress Poor Sleep And Physical Ailments Over Time Can Lead To A Pain In The Neck
Everyday life isn’t kind to the neck. You may be all too familiar with that crick you get when you cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, or the strain you feel after working at your computer.
Neck pain rarely starts overnight. It usually evolves over time. And it may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disc disease, and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep, said Dr. Zacharia Isaac, medical director of the Comprehensive Spine Care Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and director of interventional physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
The following six tips can help you find neck pain relief:
Don’t Miss: What Type Of Doctor Handles Arthritis
What Treatments Are Available
Healing begins with self-care and nonsurgical strategies . The goal is to correct the problem, restore function, and prevent re-injury.
Self care: Neck pain often resolves with rest, ice or heat, massage, pain relievers, and gentle stretches. Reduce muscle inflammation and pain using an ice pack for 20 minutes several times a day during the first 48 to 72 hours. Thereafter, a warm shower or heating pad on low setting may be added to relax the muscles. A short period of bed rest is okay, but more than a couple of days does more harm than good. If self-care treatments aren’t working within the first couple of days, see your doctor.
Medications: Many people get pain relief with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed for spasms. If pain is severe, an analgesic may be prescribed that can be taken with the NSAID or muscle relaxant.
Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. They are taken orally as a Medrol dose pack tapered over a five-day period or by an injection directly into the pain source . Steroids may provide immediate pain relief within 24-hours.
Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed unless you have muscle weakness, a proven disc herniation, cervical cord compression, problems with balance and coordination, or severe pain that does not resolve after a reasonable course of nonsurgical treatment.
What Is Cervical Spondylosis
What is Cervical Spondylosis? It is the medical term for arthritis in your neck. It is called cervical spondylosis because it affects the cervical part of the spine that is the neck area and spondylosis because it is a degeneration of the cartilage and discs in your cervical spine It usually refers to osteoarthritis in the neck because of excess spinal and neck compression that has led to damaged tissues.
What Causes Arthritis in the Neck? Poor posture is causing pain and arthritis in the neck and cervical areas of the spine. This causes narrowing of the spinal canals and thickening in the ligaments and bony structures of the neck. This leads to nerve compression due to inflammation and breakdown of the structure, and can lead to severe pain, swelling and even numbness in the area. The faster you start treating your cervical arthritis degeneration, inflammation and disc pressure, the better your chances of healing from this condition.
Don’t Miss: Is Peanut Bad For Arthritis
How Is It Treated
The type of treatment you need will depend on whether your neck pain is caused by activities, an injury, or another medical condition. Most neck pain caused by activities can be treated at home.
For neck pain that occurs suddenly:
- Use a heating pad on a low or medium setting for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Try a warm shower in place of one session with the heating pad. You can also buy single-use heat wraps that last up to 8 hours. Or you can try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. There is not strong evidence that either heat or ice will help. But you can try them to see if they help.
- Avoid more injury to your neck by changing activities and habits, such as how you sit or sleep.
- Try exercises or manual therapy to help you move your head and neck more easily. See a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopathic doctor for this type of care.
Ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen . Ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine can also help relieve pain.
To treat chronic neck pain, your doctor may prescribe medicine to relax your neck muscles. Or you may get medicines to relieve pain and help you sleep. You might also try massage or yoga to relieve neck stress.
Surgery is rarely done to treat neck pain. But it may be done if your pain is caused by a medical problem, such as pressure on the spinal nerve roots, a tumour, or narrowing of the spinal canal.