The first 7 vertebral bones on the spinal column form the cervical spine and are located in the neck region. The neck bears the weight of the head, allows significant amount of movement, and also less protected than other parts of spine. All these factors make the neck more susceptible to injury or other painful disorders. Common neck pain may occur from muscle strain or tension in everyday activities including poor posture, prolonged use of a computer and sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
The most common cause of neck pain is injury to the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, or nerves) or prolonged wear and tear. Traumatic accidents or falls and contact sports can cause severe neck injuries causing pain in the neck. Neck pain can also come from infections, tumours or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.
Common conditions producing neck pain include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joints, tissues, and organs. The condition occurs most often in the upper neck area causing inflammation of the lining (or synovium) of joints resulting in neck pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function.
- Cervical disc herniation: Disc herniation is the bulging or rupture of the soft fibrous tissue, discs, cushioning the vertebrae. Cervical disc herniation refers to herniation of discs in cervical spine region or neck region. As a result of this the soft central portion called nucleus pulposus bulges out through the tear in the capsule. The condition can be caused by the normal aging or by traumatic injury to the spine. The condition results in painful, burning, tingling or numbing sensations in the neck.
- Cervical Spondylosis: Cervical spondylosis refers to abnormal degeneration of the cartilage and bones in the neck region. The condition results in neck pain radiating to arms or shoulder and neck stiffness that gets worse over time.
- Cervical Stenosis: Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves. The condition causes neck pain radiating to arms and hands.
- Degenerative disc disease: Degenerative disc disease refers to gradual deterioration of the disc between the vertebrae and is caused due to aging. As people age intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity and shock absorbing characteristics resulting in neck pain.
Diagnosis of neck pain is made with physical examination and other imaging techniques including electromyography (EMG), X-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, blood tests and bone density assessment.
Treatment options include rest, ice application, elevation of the injured area, use a soft neck collar and neck immobilization using a splint, cast, or sling.Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation. Certain stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended to strengthen the neck muscles.
Surgical treatment by anterior cervical discectomy with spinal fusion is typically recommended only after non-surgical treatment methods fail to relieve the pain. An anterior cervical discectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the cervical (neck) spine. Spinal fusion may be performed to provide stability to the spine.
The following steps may help you prevent or improve your neck pain:
- Practice relaxation exercise to prevent undesirable stress and tension to the neck muscles
- Perform stretching exercises for your neck before and after exercise
- Keep good posture if you work at a computer and adjust the monitor at your eye level. Stretch your neck frequently
- If you use the telephone a lot, use a headset
- Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight
- Wear seat belts and use bike helmets to reduce injuries
Dr. Albright fused together four vertebrae in my neck (C3-7) on Christmas Eve, 2015. I was home the next morning at 10:30 with literally no pain other than normal post-op discomfort. I was out of the neck brace in 6 weeks and back to hitting golf balls 2 weeks after that. By April 1st I was playing 18 holes of golf 3 times a week. I strongly recommend Dr. Albright for any procedure required. He is skillful and caring, and at age 81 I am delighted to be back to my normal activity level.~ David M.
Mobi-C Device for Neck Surgery
Mobi-C Cervical Disc is the first FDA-Approved two-level disc replacement used in neck surgery.
In a fusion surgery, the disc is removed, and either a bone spacer or a plastic implant is placed in the disc space to restore disc height while alleviating pressure on the pinched nerves or spinal cord.
The Mobi-C device is placed inside the disc space to restore height and remove pressure on the pinched nerves. The major difference from traditional bone spacers is that the Mobi-C device is designed to allow the neck to maintain normal motion. There are no plates or screws added to the front of the neck. This device potentially prevents the adjacent discs from degenerating, possibly avoiding future surgeries.
The ability to maintain the mobility in the neck allows the patient to look side to side and up and down without having to turn the whole body. For patients, the result of a Mobi-C implant is the ability to return to many normal activities after surgery.
How does the Mobi-C move?
The Mobi-C top plate moves over the plastic insert. The plastic insert slides across and twists on the bottom plate.
This feature is designed to allow the disc to self-adjust and move with the spine, which is intended to facilitate motion similar to the natural cervical spine.
Blog on Mobi-C Cervical Disc
If you are suffering from neck pain and would like a consultation with Dr. Albright, call 919-863-6808.