The neck, or the cervical spine, serves the crucial function of supporting the head. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs which serve as shock absorbers. The neck is also made up of many muscles, soft tissues, ligaments, and nerves. Since this area of the body does so much, it is subject to various conditions and injuries that cause pain and reduce range of motion. There are many causes of sudden and chronic neck pain, and an accurate diagnosis ensures that you can take the right steps to find relief. At OrthoGeorgia, we work with those of all ages to diagnose and treat the causes of neck pain so our patients can live and move more comfortably every day.
What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain?
The specific symptoms of neck pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Patients may notice that pain increases when holding the head in one position for a long time, like while driving or sitting at a computer. Muscle tightness or stiffness may indicate that something is wrong with the cervical spine. Additional symptoms of injuries and conditions of the neck include headaches, a decreased ability to move the head, and numbness in the arms and hands. In some cases, neck pain is acute and lasts for only a few days, while in others, the pain becomes chronic and long-lasting.
Diagnosing the Cause of Neck Pain at OrthoGeorgia
As there is a wide range of causes of neck pain, an accurate diagnosis is crucial to finding relief. Your spine specialist at OrthoGeorgia will start by talking to you about your medical history and conducting a physical exam. This exam will allow your doctor to check for tenderness in the cervical spine, along with muscle weakness in the area. Imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, or CT scan may also be used to thoroughly examine the vertebrae, nerves, and soft tissues of the neck. If your doctor suspects that inflammation or an infection may be present, they may order a blood test.
No matter the outcome of your exam at OrthoGeorgia, your doctor will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. Some of the many causes of neck pain, both orthopaedic and otherwise, include:
Treatment of Neck Pain in Central GA
Treatment of neck pain is highly personalized and dependent on the specific cause of the symptoms. At OrthoGeorgia, we will walk you through the options that make the most sense for your unique case of neck pain and ensure that your questions are answered every step of the way.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Neck Pain
Your spine specialist may start by recommending conservative treatments for neck pain before considering surgery. Common nonsurgical treatment options include rest, ice/heat, avoiding strenuous physical activity, and taking medications such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories. Steroid injections are another potential option. Injections such as these target the nerve root, spinal joint, or neck muscles. Physical therapy is another effective nonsurgical option for addressing neck pain. If your doctor refers you to one of our physical therapists at OrthoGeorgia, they will work with you on improved posture, alignment, neck-strengthening exercises, and more to help address your neck pain. Our physical therapists in Macon, Warner Robins, and Kathleen utilize state-of-the-art equipment to provide the highest quality of care for each patient who walks through our doors.
Surgery for Severe Neck Pain in Central GA
Surgery is rarely necessary for neck pain. However, if neck pain is severe and conservative treatments have not provided relief, surgery may be considered to relieve compression in the cervical spine. Before considering surgery, your doctor will discuss whether your symptoms have worsened over time and will ensure that you are in good physical health. Some of the surgical options for neck pain in Central GA include:
Cervical discectomy – removing a portion of a disc to relieve pressure on the nerve roots
Cervical laminotomy or laminectomy – removing part of the bony arch of the spinal canal to increase the size of the canal and relieve pressure
Cervical disc replacement – removing a diseased cervical disc and replacing it with an artificial disc.
Cervical spinal fusion – permanently fusing two or more cervical vertebrae to reduce painful motion
Other Spine and Back Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
At OrthoGeorgia, our team of orthopaedic spine specialists works with patients every day to diagnose and treat various conditions and injuries of the back and neck. We are proud to help our patients address their pain and go back to enjoying their daily activities, sports, and more with full range of motion and comfort. If you are experiencing symptoms of any of the conditions or injuries below, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at the OrthoGeorgia location nearest you today.
“I really like Dr. Brooks. I'll be honest I'm stubborn and I don't listen to a lot of people and he was right to the point with me about what I needed to do and what was happening... and it feels better now than it did 10, 15, 20 years ago it really does."
Eric Hayes, Mercer Tennis Coach & OrthoGeorgia Patient