Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population experiencing neck pain at some point in their lives. It may arise due to muscular tightness or joint disruption in both the neck and upper back or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae. The vertebral joints in the neck and those of the upper back create a supportive structure for the head to sit upon. If this support system is affected adversely, then the muscles in the area can tighten and lead to neck pain.
Other potential causes of neck pain include:
- Over-use – muscular strain is one of the most common causes
- Chronic partial rotator cuff tears
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Pinched nerve
- Injuries and falls – car accidents, sporting events etc.
- Chronic Stress – physical and emotional
- Referred pain from other parts of the body
- Carotid artery dissection
- Head and neck cancer
If a patient finds that their pain is persisting despite conservative treatments, more targeted medications can be prescribed such as muscle relaxants, topical anti-inflammatories, or even anticonvulsants which are known to control nerve pain.
If the patient finds that medication alone is not controlling their pain, there are many minimally invasive procedures that target the source of their cervicalgia. Treatments such as Epidural steroid injections, Radiofrequency ablations, nerve branch blocks, can be used as a last resort option.