Dr. Dan Albright discusses different causes for neck pain. He explains the difference between neck pain caused by muscle strain and nerve pain and the treatment for both.
Transcript of video:
Cervical pain. Neck pain. I’d like to talk about that this evening. My name is Doctor Dan Albright at the Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic in Raleigh. North Carolina. I’m an orthopedic spine surgeon.
I would like to talk about the cervical spine which the neck. I have a model here and the spine is, you know, a very long structure starting at the tailbone in the coccyx, you go through the lumbar spine which takes a lot of weight for your body. This is the lordosis curve. Then here’s the thoracic spine where the ribs are. Very stable. This is the middle part your back. Then the neck. In some ways it is the simplest. You have the least amount of weight here. Then this is lordosis again. Proper alignment is a gentle curve like this, called lordosis.
Why do we have problems with the neck? One is just aging. As we get older our discs dry out, they get thinner, they start shifting a little bit, the bones start shifting. Then you get bone spurs and you get pain. So pain in the neck can be from aging and arthritis.
Pain in the neck can be from muscle strain. That’s very common. If you sit at a computer for a long time, at the TV or in a car. Sometimes you have bad posturing. You just need to stretch. If you are in any one position too long, you get neck pain. It’s physical strain, it can also be mental strain. People who feel stressed often times get headaches and get neck pain.
Other reasons for neck pain, are herniated discs. A ruptured disc can cause a neck problem. This is another model of the neck. And the discs are in between the bones. The discs are the soft shock absorbers. They are like jelly doughnuts. They have jelly in the middle and a more fibrous outer part. And the disc can rupture. It’s like a blown out tire or jelly squirting out the donut. When that
happens the disc can squirt or put pressure on a nerve and then you have neck pain going to shoulder blade pain (the scapula) then down the arm. That’s a big deal.
If your neck pain eventually turns into shoulder blade pain, the scapula, that’s probably a nerve. Particularly if it goes in the arm – that’s a nerve. A lot of times you may get numbness with that or weakness. And that’s a big deal.
So, nerve pain we want to know about. For nerve pain you ought to see the doctor. For neck pain, most times it just gets better on its own. Give it a few days, even a month. If it’s not getting better
go see the doctor. General treatments for neck pain are
anti-inflammatory medicines, ibuprofen or Aleve. Tylenol, sometimes, which is not an anti-inflammatory. Physical therapy can help.
A chiropractor does have a role. A gentle chiropractor can help neck pain and also lower back pain. The emphasis is on gentle for the chiropractor and limited visits.
Surgery is always the last option and rarely needed for just neck pain.
I am Doctor Dan Albright at the Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic. I am happy to talk to you about this further in my office.
My website is danalbrightmd.com. And appointments phone number is 919-863-6808. Thanks.