It's no accident that we use the expression "pain in the neck" to describe something that bothers us. Actual neck pain is very bothersome, and can make going about our daily routine very difficult. The spine surgeons at MedStar Health have expertise in diagnosing the cause of your neck pain and determining the most effective treatment options. Our team of accomplished, experienced orthopaedic surgeons specializes in both traditional and contemporary management of neck and spine problems. Our approach to your care includes:
- Multidisciplinary partnerships - Our multidisciplinary approach to your care means our team will collaborate with other relevant specialists to diagnose and treat your condition.
- Conservative management - Our experience shows that surgery is not the solution to every problem. When appropriate, we focus on managing your condition with non-surgical options like physical therapy and medication before moving toward surgery.
- Patient education - You will benefit from the time we devote to making sure you and your family understands your condition and your options. We explain the risks and benefits of all possible options, and give you the final say to choose the best treatment option for you.
Neck Pain Causes
Our first step in diagnosing and treating neck pain is determining its underlying cause. The most common causes of neck pain include:
- Poor posture, especially while using a computer or watching television
- Quickly moving or twisting your head
- Sleeping in a bad position
More serious injuries and conditions can also affect the neck muscles, nerves, and spine and cause neck pain. These conditions include:
- Arthritis - Arthritis is an inflammation of the tissues that line your joints. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and joint damage. Types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis - The natural aging process can wear away at the cushioning between the bones in your neck, causing inflammation and pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis - This immune system dysfunction attacks and wears away at the cushioning between your bones. It is common for rheumatoid arthritis to affect the neck, causing stiffness and pain.
- Herniated disk - Flexible disks filled with thick fluid cushion the space between the vertebrae. These disks can "herniate," or slip out of place. They can also "rupture," or leak. A herniated or ruptured disk puts pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain in the neck, as well as the spine itself and the arms or the legs.
- Spinal stenosis - In this condition, the vertebrae, or bones that make up the spine, tighten around the spinal cord, reducing the cushioning space between them. Without this cushioning space, the vertebrae can put too much pressure on the spinal cord.
- Spondylosis - Flexible disks filled with thick fluid cushion the space between the vertebrae. In this condition, the fluid dries up, reducing the space between the vertebrae. When the vertebrae are too close together, they can put too much pressure on the joints between the spine, and on the spinal cord itself.