Because your neck is almost always working to support and move your head, it’s one of the most commonly injured areas. While the neck is constantly working to move and support the weight of your head, it’s less protected than the rest of your spine, making it vulnerable to injury that produces pain and restricts movement.
If you are experiencing persistent, debilitating pain that radiates down your arms and legs, or if you have neck pain accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness, it’s time to speak with our New Jersey specialists that can help you Get Better Faster.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain has several common causes and can be treated by a wide range of approaches, from physical therapy to surgery. Common causes of neck pain include:
- Muscle strains: Muscles in the neck become fatigued and strained from poor posture and from having one’s head slouched forward for a prolonged period.
- Disc disorder: As in other areas of the spine, the discs in your neck can herniate and irritate nerves, resulting in pain.
- Injury: Everything from rear-end collisions to athletic injuries can cause whiplash, stretching the soft tissues of the neck
- Arthritis: As with other parts of the body, neck joints can deteriorate over time.
Once we diagnose the cause of your pain, our NJ doctors can recommend a course of neck treatment. While some conditions can be treated conservatively, others may require more invasive procedures or surgery
Conservative Neck Treatments We Offer
When it comes to neck treatments, many consider orthopedic care the gold standard. Orthopedists are specially trained to address problems involving the musculoskeletal system — the network of muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments that support your body. Our experts know that problems within the musculoskeletal system are often the culprit of neck pain.
For most neck-related complaints, we offer non-surgical, conservative treatment options first. This may include:
If your neck pain is caused by temporary muscle strain, a few days — perhaps weeks — of rest and physical therapy for your neck pain are usually enough for the physical discomfort to fade away on its own.
Depending on your line of work or how much time you spend sitting at a desk or working on a computer, posture can be a contributing factor. Poor posture increases your risk of head, neck, and back pain. Make sure your chair and desk are set up to promote good posture, and take frequent breaks, stand up, and stretch throughout the day.
Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used to treat minor to moderate neck pain and inflammation. Prescription medication is also available, depending on your situation.
Physical therapy for neck pain involves strength training and pain management techniques that help you recover from injuries as well as lower your risk of future injuries. Physical therapy may include working on your posture and alignment, neck therapy stretches and exercises, and modifications to your routine.
Neck Therapy Exercises
Neck exercises and stretches can strengthen the muscles in your neck and make them more limber. The following moves can work to loosen your tense neck, reduce pain, and gain flexibility:
This can be done seated or standing. It’s important to keep your moves slow and smooth:
- With your back straight, lower your chin toward your chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then slowly lift your head back up.
- Tilt your chin toward the ceiling, bringing the base of your skull toward your back. Hold for about 10 seconds and return to the start position.
- Repeat the set several times daily.
Perform this while standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms down by your sides.
- Tilt your head toward your right shoulder; try to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel the stretch, and don’t raise your shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds and return to the starting position.
- Repeat with your left shoulder. You can do several sets, working your way up to 10 repetitions.
Side rotations can be done while seated or standing.
- With your back straight, turn your head to the right until you feel a stretch in your neck and shoulder
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, and slowly turn your head forward
- Repeat on your left side and do up to 10 sets
These are best done while standing up.
- Raise your shoulders up and move them in a forward circle for six full cycles.
- Return to the start position and make another six circles going backward.
If conservative, non-invasive neck treatment options with NJ Spine and Wellness don’t prove effective, we may recommend surgery — of which there are several types. The type of surgery you might need is dependent on myriad factors, including the cause of your condition, your specialist’s recommendation, and personal preference.
The most common types of neck surgeries include:
- Cervical spinal fusion
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)
- Anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF)
- Artificial disc replacement (ADR)
- Posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy