What’s Causing Your Neck Pain?
Anyone who has experienced neck pain understands how much this small, vulnerable area of the spine can impact the overall condition of the body from head to toe. Disorders of the cervical vertebrae can range from “mild” sprains to severe debilitating trauma, but each condition can be significant. Orthopedic spine specialists at Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital – Arlington focus on diagnosing all types of neck pain and providing effective treatment for every condition.
Neck Injury Can Damage Soft Tissue & Bone
The most common type of cervical spine injury comes in the form of a sudden movement or impact that overstretches or severely twists the neck. The bones (vertebrae) in the cervical spine are connected by neck muscles, nerves, and ligaments. Each vertebrae is cushioned along the spine by discs that absorb any pressure or impact.
Neck pain can easily result from such injuries as:
- Contact sports
- Repetitive motion stress
Damaged tissue that irritates nerves surrounding the cervical spine, leading to what many refer to as a “pinched” nerve. The orthopedic term is cervical radiculopathy. Hard impact from a sports injury or a fall may result in strained neck muscles or painful compression along the spinal column in the neck area.
In severe cases, neck injury goes beyond soft tissue damage and may involve fractured or dislocated bones in the spine. In addition to neck pain, these types of neck injuries may lead to serious complications such as paralysis.
Spine care specialists typically warn patients to seek immediate care when neck pain also involves radiating pain or numbness in the legs or arms. Be particularly aware of neck pain accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling
Diseases Linked to Neck Pain
Beyond physical trauma, neck pain also can occur as a symptom of a disease. Medical disorders linked to neck pain can result in severe, chronic pain and long-term disability in some cases. Orthopedic spine doctors are specially trained and experienced in treating neck disorders such as:
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Congenital torticollis (twisted neck)
- Spondylosis (cervical disc degeneration)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Infection (meningitis)
Arthritis is the most common disabling disease today, affecting more than 50 million Americans. This degenerative disease sometimes targets the bones and soft tissues of the neck.
More than 100 types of arthritis exist, but the most frequently seen type is called osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disease causing the cartilage that coats the surface of bones and joints to wear away over time. As you lose cartilage in the neck, vertebrae grind together, creating stiffness, weakness, and chronic neck pain. An orthopedic surgeon or spine care specialist can diagnose arthritic neck pain and recommend pain management solutions or physical therapy to preserve healthy joint function.
Degenerative disc disease results when the discs between your vertebrae break down due to age, genetics, wear and tear, or injury. Spondylosis is the specific disc degeneration found in the cervical discs of the neck. Discs do not repair themselves, so this condition can eventually result in neck pain that radiates to the hands and worsens
when you sit, bend, lift, or twist. Cervical discs may also begin to protrude and press against the spinal cord or vertebral nerves, resulting in a herniated disc.
“Twisted neck” refers to a congenital neck condition found in infants who may be born with a tight muscle on one side of the neck. Congenital torticollis leads to the strained neck pulling the head down and to one side, sometimes even causing a slight lump that gradually disappears. Early diagnosis by an orthopedic doctor using X-rays or ultrasound can ensure prompt treatment. A painless condition, twisted neck may be corrected with neck exercises and stretching.
Orthopedic Surgery Can Relieve Neck Pain
Treatments differ for each individual, but neck pain may respond favorably to nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy or therapeutic spinal injections. If, over time, neck pain continues, your spine specialist may recommend orthopedic spine surgery.
Neck surgery used to treat cervical spine disorders may include:
- Total disc replacement
- Herniated disc surgery
- Anterior cervical corpectomy
- Reconstructive spinal surgery
- Spine decompression
- Spinal fusion
The spine center at Baylor Scott & White – Arlington offers advanced diagnostic tools, surgical suites, and rehabilitation facilities. The goal is to present patients with the most comprehensive choice of options when it comes to treating neck pain, no matter what the cause. A partnership with Arlington Orthopedic Associates, P.A., lets patients choose from more than a dozen orthopedic surgeons with specialized expertise in all areas of orthopedic medicine , including spine care.
To pinpoint the cause of your neck pain, find an experienced orthopedic specialist, spine doctor, or spine surgeon at Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington. Call 855-41-ORTHO to schedule a consultation with the physician most qualified to treat neck disorders.