You reached to the floor to pick something up while sitting down and hurt your neck. The pain appeared to subside with a heat patch, but several months later it returned and hasn’t gone away since. Now, it gets worse every time you bend over. Is it chronic neck pain?
What Is Chronic Pain?
Pain can be acute, meaning new, persisting for weeks or months, or chronic, when it lingers for longer than 3 months. Chronic pain is one of the costliest health issues in America. Higher medical expenses, lost productivity, lost income, compensation expenses, legal fees are some of the economic consequences of chronic neck pain.
The symptoms can be debilitating if not treated. Know your treatment options and ask your doctor for more information or look online.
What Are The Symptoms?
The discomfort from chronic neck pain isn’t limited to your neck; it can expand to the upper back, shoulders, or arms. Symptoms include:
- Pain worsens with movement.
- Stiffness or tenderness in the neck.
- Numbness, or tingling in the hand or arm.
- A burning sensation when you’re touched on the arm or hand.
- Electric-like shock in your arm or hand.
- Leg weakness or numbness, and loss of the power to control the urge to urinate.
The Causes Of Chronic Neck Pain
Even with modern technology, the exact cause of chronic neck pain is hard to uncover. Primarily, chronic neck pain likely has many different causes, including any of the following:
- Overuse, vigorous activity, or inappropriate use, like repetitive or heavy lifting
- Trauma, fractures, or injury
- Deterioration of vertebrae, likely the result of stresses on the ligaments and muscles supporting your spine, or the rigors of aging
- Abnormal growth, like from a bone spur or tumor
- Obesity, resulting in more weight on your spine, and tension on your discs
- Poor muscle tone
- Muscle spasm or tension
- Sprain or strain
- Muscle or ligament tears
- Joint problems like arthritis
- A herniated disk or pinched nerve
- Compression fractures and osteoporosis
- Congenital birth defects of bones and vertebrae
- Abdominal problems, like an aortic aneurysm
Chronic neck pain may be an early sign of meningitis or cancer. For serious neck issues, your primary care physician and more likely a specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, should be talked to in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and recommend the appropriate treatment.
For some people, chronic neck pain can also be the result of an injury, like a tumble from a ladder or whiplash from a car crash resulting in severe neck pain. Physical activity doesn’t need to be avoided as long as signs of other problems don’t arise.
Thankfully, many symptoms of chronic neck pain can be relieved by traditional means like store-bought pain medicines, prescription medication, physical therapy, surgery, and newer options such as ketamine therapy.
Can Chronic Neck Pain Be Prevented?
There are many anti-pain strategies to consider. You can avoid neck pain related to stress or muscle strain by changing certain habits. Avoid positions that strain your neck like sitting at your computer for long stretches. How you sit in a chair may determine pain, so don’t forget about posture. Sit with your feet even on the floor, straight in your chair, and give yourself breaks several times each hour. The pain could also be sleep-related, so use a pillow that prevents your neck from turning freely and don’t sleep on your stomach with your neck bent or twisted.
Your doctor will record your medical history and do an exam, checking for tenderness, deadness, and muscle weakness, plus determine how far you can move your head backward, forward, and to the side. Diagnosis may include:
- X-rays to show areas in your neck where your nerves or spinal cord might be pinched.
- CT scans which combine X-ray images from many different angles to create detailed cross-sectional views inside your neck.
- An MRI which uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images of soft tissues and bones, particularly the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
- Blood tests.
Once your chronic neck pain has been diagnosed, you and your doctor can talk about treatment options. These may include physical therapy, store-bought pain relievers, prescription medication, or newer therapy options like ketamine treatment. Ketamine, originally a pre-surgical anesthetic, has since been proven effective in treating many symptoms related to chronic neck pain and other conditions.
If you experience neck pain that has lasted for several months, it may be chronic and require medical care. A medical examination can go a long way toward diagnosis and give your doctor the information needed to recommend treatment. Chronic neck pain which doesn’t respond to treatment may be relieved with ketamine.
Contact us today to learn more about the innovative treatment options we offer for chronic pain!