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Neck pain

Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ

Overview

Like back strain, neck strain is an irritation to tendons, muscles and ligaments in the upper back and neck area. Unlike the low back which can have spasms, neck problems more resemble annoying aches.
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Causes

Because the neck supports the head, which can be like supporting a heavy bowling ball, the neck muscles are required to do heavy duty during the day, especially if there are sports involved.

The neck also is at risk of injury from violent movements or traumatic events.

Whiplash, for example, is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck, usually because of sudden extension and flexion, such as in a car accident.


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Symptoms

Spine surgeon second opinion Arizona, Spine surgery second opinion Arizona, Second opinion for spine surgery Arizona, Second opinion for back surgery Arizona, Second opinion for neck surgery Arizona, Spine surgeon Arizona, Spine center Arizona, Spine Group Arizona, Spine surgeon Scottsdale, Laser spine surgery Arizona, Minimally invasive spine surgery Arizona, Home remedies for back pain Arizona, Home remedies for neck pain Arizona, Home remedy back pain Arizona, Herniated disc Arizona, Non-surgical treatment back pain Arizona, Artificial disc replacement neck Arizona, Artificial disc replacement Arizona, destination center for spine care Arizona, Home remedies for back pain Hermosillo, Minimally invasive spine surgery Hermosillo, Second opinion for spine surgery HermosilloSymptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury or may be delayed for several days. In addition to neck pain, other symptoms may include neck stiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries), headache, dizziness, abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (paresthesias), or shoulder or back pain. In addition, some people experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions such as memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue or depression.

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Diagnosis

Outlined below are some of the diagnostic tools that your physician may use to gain insight into your condition and determine the best treatment plan for your condition.

  • Medical history: Conducting a detailed medical history helps the doctor better understand the possible causes of your back and neck pain which can help outline the most appropriate treatment.
  • Physical exam: During the physical exam, your physician will try to pinpoint the source of pain. Simple tests for flexibility and muscle strength may also be conducted.
  • X-rays are usually the first step in diagnostic testing methods. X-rays show bones and the space between bones. They are of limited value, however, since they do not show muscles and ligaments.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate highly detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Since X-rays only show bones, MRIs are needed to visualize soft tissues like discs in the spine. This type of imaging is very safe and usually pain-free.
  • CT scan/myelogram: A CT scan is similar to an MRI in that it provides diagnostic information about the internal structures of the spine. A myelogram is used to diagnose a bulging disc, tumor, or changes in the bones surrounding the spinal cord or nerves. A local anesthetic is injected into the low back to numb the area. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is then performed. A dye is injected into the spinal canal to reveal where problems lie.
  • Electrodiagnostics: Electrical testing of the nerves and spinal cord may be performed as part of a diagnostic workup. These tests, called electromyography (EMG) or somato sensory evoked potentials (SSEP), assist your doctor in understanding how your nerves or spinal cord are affected by your condition.
  • Bone scan: Bone imaging is used to detect infection, malignancy, fractures and arthritis in any part of the skeleton. Bone scans are also used for finding lesions for biopsy or excision.
  • Discography is used to determine the internal structure of a disc. It is performed by using a local anesthetic and injecting a dye into the disc under X-ray guidance. An X-ray and CT scan are performed to view the disc composition to determine if its structure is normal or abnormal. In addition to the disc appearance, your doctor will note any pain associated with this injection. The benefit of a discogram is that it enables the physician to confirm the disc level that is causing your pain. This ensures that surgery will be more successful and reduces the risk of operating on the wrong disc.
  • Injections: Pain-relieving injections can relieve back pain and give the physician important information about your problem, as well as provide a bridge therapy.

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Treatment

Treatment for individuals with neck strain may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil or Nuprin), antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and a cervical collar (usually worn for two to three weeks) to help support the head and provide some time for sore neck muscles to recuperate.

Exercises that improve the range of motion, hands on therapy and cervical traction also are used by a spine center. A therapist may also use ice and heat to provide some pain relief.

For many people, neck strain symptoms may improve over a few days or weeks. Most patients start to improve within 3 months after the injury, however, some may have some lingering neck pain and headaches.


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FAQs
When is neck strain serious?

As with back pain, any time symptoms do not improve after three days, it's a good idea to see a spine specialist. Also, red flag symptoms like pain or numbness radiating into an arm, especially down into the fingers, are emergency symptoms and should be seen by a spine specialist or you may risk permanent damage.

See our exercise library for helpful neck exercises.

How can I prevent neck strain?

You can minimize your risk of experiencing neck strain by strengthening the muscles and ligaments in your neck, avoiding contact sports and driving cautiously.
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Do you NEED spine surgery?


Do you have pain that radiates into an arm or leg?

   Yes    No

Do you have any numbess or weakness in a foot or hand?

   Yes    No

Have you had an MRI within the last 12 months?

   Yes    No

Provide contant information below so we can advise you based on your above symptoms:

   

Dr Harvinder Deogun, physical medicine scottsdale, physical medicine phoenix

Harvinder S. Deogun, M.D.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Dr Harvinder Deogun, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix
Dr Brian Fitzpatrick, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix

Brian C. Fitzpatrick, M.D.

Board Certified Neurosurgeon

Dr Brian Fitzpatrick, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix
Dr Frederick Marciano, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix

Frederick F. Marciano, M.D., Ph.D.

Board Certified Neurosurgeon

Dr Frederick Marciano, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix

Francisco Ponce, M.D.

Board Certified Neurosurgeon

Dr Francisco Ponce, neurosurgeon, phoenix, scottsdale
Dr Luis Tumialan, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix

Luis M. Tumialán, M.D.

Board Certified Neurosurgeon

Dr Luis Tumialan, neurosurgeon scottsdale, neurosurgeon phoenix

John E. Wanebo, M.D.

Board Certified Neurosurgeon

Dr John Wanebo, neurosurgeon, phoenix, scottsdale