520 Center Street, Fenton, MO 63026

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common cause of pain and can become a significant limitation in performing every day activities. Neck pain can be either acute (recent injury) or chronic (pain that has been present for a long time, usually more than 3-6 months). The most common causes of neck pain include:

  • Muscle strain or muscle pain

    • Sleeping in a position that irritates the neck muscles, looking at a computer screen for long periods of time

  • Degenerative disc disease

  • Trauma

    • Car accident, contact sports

  • Facet joint arthritis​

  • Bulging disc

  • Pinched nerve (radiculopathy)

What type of pain can you experience with neck pain?

Neck pain can presents with many different symptoms which can make it difficult to diagnose appropriately. Our pain management physicians are highly skilled at differentiating between the different types of neck pain so that you receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.  Depending on the cause, neck pain can either be solely isolated to the neck region or it can be associated with pain going down to the shoulders, forearms and fingers. Many common symptoms include: 

  • Sharp stabbing pain

  • Electric pain

  • Pain with moving neck side to side

  • Decreased range of motion of the neck

  • Muscle spasms

  • Tightness of neck muscles

  • Weakness in one or both arms

  • Headaches

  • Stiffness

  • Numbness and tingling

  • Pins and needles

  • Burning pain

How can our St. Louis pain doctors help diagnose your neck pain?

  • Thorough history and physical exam. Our pain specialists utilize a vast amount of physical exam tests in order to pinpoint the source of your neck pain. 

  • A neurological exam is important in figuring out what nerves and muscles are affected

  • Imaging such as Xray, MRI and CT scan

  • A Nerve conduction study and EMG 

    • Important in locating the nerve that may be pinched off in the neck and any other causes of arm pain that may not be coming from the neck

What are your treatment options?

When the cause of your neck pain is determined, an individualized treatment plan is created that uses a regimen specific for your type of neck pain.  Depending on your source of neck pain, a combination of the treatments below may be utilized.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS)

  • Cold packs/heating pads

  • Cervical traction

  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Pregabalin (Lyrica)

    • Helps to decrease pain from a pinched nerve or bulging disc

  • Trigger point injections

    • Help with muscle spasms or muscle pain

  • Facet joint injections

  • Epidural injections​

  • Skin creams and patches​

    • Lidocaine cream, lidocaine patches, capsaicin cream​

  • Anti-depressants​

    • Many of these medications have been shown to block pain signals in the spinal cord and brain

  • Muscle relaxants​

  • Acupuncture 

  • TENS​

    • Also blocks pain signals from affected areas​

  • Physical therapy

    • Ultrasound, myofascial release

What can you do to avoid or decrease neck pain?

  • Change your mattress

    • Some mattresses can be causing or making your neck pain worse especially if the mattress is too hard

  • Cervical pillow​

    • Supports the natural curve of your neck when you are sleeping and prevents strain on your neck

  • Exercise​ and strength training

    • The stronger your muscles are, the less prone they are to injury

  • Stretching neck muscles

  • Reduce stress

    • Yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques

  • Modify work environment to minimize strain on the neck (proper ergonomics)

    • Adjust computer screen to eye level so you are not constantly looking up or down at the screen

For more information or to discuss an appropriate treatment plan for your neck pain with one of our specialized pain management physicians, call Saint Louis Spine and Joint Pain Specialists today.

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