All Posts tagged neck pain

Cervical radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy

Pain is often misleading. It can radiate and travel throughout the body leaving a patient unsure of the actual source of pain or injury this is the case with cervical radiculopathy.

Symptoms

Impingement of a nerve in the cervical spine (neck) can often cause cervical radiculopathy or cervical radiculitis.

This type of pain is particularly deceiving as it may present as shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness  and may be felt in the neck, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands and/or fingers.

Causes

Cervical radiculitis usually occurs as a result of some underlying condition affecting the cervical discs or vertebrae. Such conditions may be; herniated disc in the neck, spondylolisthesis, or a buldging disc for example. In some cases the cause of these conditions is due to an injury or trauma of some kind, however, very often cervical pain is due to degeneration in the spine. Age, poor body mechanics, smoking, and genetics are all factors that contribute to neck pain.

Treatment of cervical radiculopathy

Radiating pain can mask the underlying cause or source of pain which could lead to an  inaccurate diagnosis and mistreatment of the pain.

Therefore it is imperative that patients  seek the medical attention of a qualified pain specialist who can perform appropriate diagnostic tests and order MRIs or XRAYs to pinpoint the true source of their pain.

The conservative, non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments offered by interventional pain specialists often solve the pain associated with cervical radiculitis at the source of the problem.

Interventional pain management offers advanced injection based procedures that reduce the need for medications, provide longer term pain relief and reduce the likelihood of expensive surgeries with long recovery times.

Procedures designed specifically for the cervical spine include:

 



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What is the cause of my neck pain?

What is the cause of my neck pain?

Neck pain is the second most common complaint among our patients second only to lower back pain of course.

There are myriad reasons that pain in the neck can occur. Sometimes the cause is obvious, a patient has had an accident or injury resulting a physical trauma that causes pain in the neck or cervical region. However, other times you may not be able to pin point a specific incident or don’t understand what happened to actually cause the pain you are experiencing. In medical terms this is called idiopathic pain which can be more difficult to treat.

Your neck is made up of ligaments muscles and bones. The cervical spine (the upper vertebrae of the spine) goes from the skull to the torso between each vertebrae are discs that act as shock absorbers between the bones.

Injury, inflammation and a range of abnormalities to any of the above can cause neck pain and stiffness.



Types of neck pain and possible causes

Pain going down your neck through your shoulders or arms is called radiating neck pain or cervical radiculopathy. If you experience this you may be suffering from either a cervical herniated disc  spinal spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.

Cervical radiculopathy is commonly associated with an injury near the nerve root and is often called a “pinched nerve”. Radiating pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling down the arm.

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. As the spinal canal narrows it puts pressure on the nerves which in turn may cause pain. Foraminal stenosis is the narrowing the cervical disc space due to the enlargement of a joint in the spinal canal. In some cases this condition may require surgery.

Degeneration of the disc, where the space between the individual vertebrae becomes smaller and the disc becomes less spongy and therefore less capable of absorbing shock, is also a very common cause for neck pain.

In some case muscle stiffness may be the cause of neck pain. In these cases trigger point injections can help by encouraging blood flow to the region by igniting the body’s inclination to self heal.

If you are experiencing neck pain that persists your pain management specialist can order Xrays and MRIs to discover the root cause of this pain and develop a multi-modal treatment plan to combat pain and help you regain your quality of life.

 

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5 misconceptions about Pain Management

5 misconceptions about Pain Management

5 misconceptions about Pain Management

We asked our Doctors to set the record straight and clarify 5 common misconceptions about Pain Management, pain medicine and what we do. Here’s what they had to say:

1) It just entails a doctor writing for pain medications:

Most people have the misconception that pain management specialists primarily and solely write for pain medications as their means of treating acute/chronic pain. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, ittreating pain, pain managmeent is our goal to keep people from requiring chronic dosing of pain medications as this in itself has long term side effects and changes how our bodies work.

Our intention is to start with an accurate diagnosis of the cause of a patient’s main source of pain and to then implement interventional procedures that can either treat or moderate a patient’s pain. The idea is to either resolve or, at the least, temporize a patients level of chronic pain so that they have more tolerance to physical therapy and require less daily pain medication in the future.

Another common misconception is that a Pain Physician’s use of the term “pain medication” refers to controlled narcotic substances. It is always our initiative to use a combination of different types of medications which are not necessarily narcotics.

As Pain Physicians we avoid the initiation of these pain medications as narcotics carry inherent risks and can become a long term burden on the patient.

There are certain cases where patients have causes of pain that cannot be treated with interventional procedures, and in these few cases we then explore different types and combinations of medications.

We reserve the use of narcotics, for a short time, for cases where procedures do not provide adequate relief, however, hoping not to introduce controlled substances on a long term basis.

spine, back and neck pain2) It’s only for people with neck and back problems:

When people think of pain management, they usually first think of neck and low back pain limited to the spine. Although this can describe a majority of our patients, we also treat many other sites and sources of pain such as chronic headaches, knee, shoulder, abdominal, pelvic pain and facial pain.

We can also treat peripheral neuropathic pain such as that caused by diabetes and chemotherapy or postherpetic neuralgia as a result of having had shingles.

3) It’s a last resort:

Unfortunately, most people come to pain management after having dealt with chronic pain for a long time and seeing physicians whose therapies might be limited to pain medications. Chronic pain along with prolonged use of narcotics causes multiple changes in the body such as changes in normal levels of circulating hormones and sleep cycles. Therapeautic interventions work best the sooner we see a patient as these other physiologic changes have not yet occurred and there is less to reverse.

These chronic physiologic changes can cause mood changes along with how our bodies perceive pain, sometimes making us more sensitive to painful sensations. In short, seeking a consult with a pain specialist as soon as pain persists is the best way to manage your pain in the long term.

4) Pain procedures are only a short term fix and only mask the pain until it returns:

In many cases this statement is actually true. Our goal in interventional pain management is to alleviate or minimize the pain that a patient feels on a daily basis so that they can be more functional and participate in modalities such as physical therapy. Our purpose in pain management is to prepare a patient’s body for building strength so that there are less acute and severe painful episodes.

Although sometimes we are unable to relieve pain completely, we can provide intermittent episodes of relief and eliminate the need for surgery if the patient is a poor surgical candidate or chooses not to undergo surgery.Smiling Family Posing in Field

The longevity of the pain relief a patient experiences depends on the cause of their pain and available therapies that can be offered to the patient. Although some of our therapies do not give prolonged relief, some do.

It is all on a case by case basis, and depends on the age and pathology of a patient’s pain. It is important that patients get assessed by an interventional pain physician to determine if there is a long term relief option for their source of pain.

In many cases, the earlier a patient seeks treatment for their pain the longer their pain relief experience may be.

5) All pain management specialists are the same, if you’ve tried one, there is no use exploring your options with another:

As with any specialty, outcomes are based on a physician’s individual skill and training. Because pain management is an evolving specialty, there are many new procedures that could be introduced to patient’s treatment plan.

Sometimes patients have a failed procedure or had a bad experience and assume that any future interventions will continue to be unfruitful. This is not usually the case. Therefore, it is important to do your research.

Seeking a more interventional driven pain physician who might have more skill or experience in different therapies may be an option to better treat your pain.

 

 

 

 

 

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