Navid Farahmand, M.D., provides specialty interventional pain management solutions for neck pain that does not require surgery to residents of Beverly Hills, California. Conservative therapies like epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, and facet radiofrequency ablation procedures can help relieve neck pain and allow patients to continue daily activities.
The adult human head weighs about 12 pounds; as the neck connects the head to the rest of the spine, a sudden jolt can make the head flip back and forth on the neck, creating a condition called whiplash. Unlike other areas of the spine, which are connected to supporting structures like the ribs or pelvis, the neck has no real support. The neck is also one of the very flexible parts of the spine and can move into many different positions. This combination of mobility and lack of support, plus the weight of the head, means the neck is more susceptible to injury than other areas in the spine.
One common cause of neck pain is poor posture. Because the head is relatively heavy, walking, sitting or standing with the head thrust forward (common when using a computer) causes stress on neck muscles that can result in pain. The cushions of collagen (called discs) between the bones (also known as vertebrae) of the neck can wear out, causing the bones of the neck to rub together, or alternatively, the discs can bulge into the spinal cord and cause pressure on the nerve. Arthritis can develop in other small joints of the neck known as facet joints. This bony overgrowth can cause pain independently, or by compressing the exiting spinal nerves.
Treatments for neck pain are targeted to the cause of the problem. Poor posture and muscle strain can often be corrected with exercise and changes in body mechanics that can be taught by a physical therapist or chiropractor. Massage therapy and acupuncture may also help with tense, tight muscles. A course of anti-inflammatory or other forms of pain medication can be included to help minimize pain during the rehabilitation process. Trigger point injections involve numbing muscles in spasm in order to help the muscle return to its normal, relaxed state. X-ray guided epidural steroid injections can help eliminate pain from diseased discs or pinched spinal nerves. Spinal cord stimulation is another option for some patients, particularly if they have exhausted other forms of conservative treatment, are not surgical candidates, and have persistent pain.