Chronic Neck and Nerve-Root Pain

If you have suffered from a neck problem for three months or more, your pain will be described as “chronic”. The pain may be severe or mild, constant or intermittent; these factors will determine the degree to which it affects your life.

Causes

Precise causes of chronic neck pain are often difficult to determine. In more than 50 per cent of sufferers, it stems from the facet joints as a result of osteoarthritis, spondylosis, or a previous trauma such as a whiplash injury. If you have nerve-root pain, the most probable cause is a prolapsed disc. Less common causes of chronic neck pain include myofascial pain and, very rarely, cancer.

Symptoms

The symptoms of chronic neck pain are similar to  those of acute neck. Older people with degenerative changes in their neck may experience grinding or grating when moving, causing stiffness and aching. Recurrent episodes of more disabling pain can be triggered by trivial movements such as rotating your neck suddenly, jolting or jarring, and extending your neck or bending forwards for sustained periods of time. Numbness, pins and needles, and weakness in your hands may be a sign of cervical myelopathy – when the spinal cord in the neck is squeezed by degenerative changes in the bones and discs, leading to impairment of the nerves, affecting the arms and sometimes the legs – or spinal cord compression. Advanced cervical myelopathy may affect walking and gait. Chronic nerve-root pain may cause neuropathic features – when a nerve or nerves are damaged over a long period, leading to abnormal processing of pain – such as burning sensations. Mood and sleep patterns may become disturbed; the impact of the pain on your life can cause frustration and sometimes depression.

Risks and Complications

The physical risks of chronic neck pain are associated with the more serious conditions of major disc prolapse or cervical myelopathy leading to spinal cord compression. In rheumatoid disease, the neck can become unstable due to ligament damage. Other significant complications of chronic pain relate to its effect on your life, work, relationships, mood, and fitness.

Treatment for Facet Joint Pain

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as being caused by a facet joint problem, you should
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherpy
  • If your pain is moderate to severe,and you have not improved with physiotherapy, you should see a specialist. The specialist may:
    • perform MRI and injections to the neck.
  • If the specialist decides that injections are not appropriate or are not working, he may:
    • suggest a functional rehabilitation programme
    • suggest an operation
  • If a more specific diagnosis leading to effective treatment has not been made
    • use medication wisely and appropriately.

Treatment for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as being caused by a myofascial problem, you should:
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherpy
  • If you are still in pain, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, who may:
    • consider giving you a low dose of an antidepressant to relax your muscles and improve sleep quality.
    • identify trigger points. If these are found, he may use trigger-point injections.
  • If after several months you are still in pain, your specialist may:
    • suggest a functional rehabilitation programme.

Treatment for Disc-Related Pain

 

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as disc-related, you should:
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherapy
  • If your pain is moderate or severe and it has not improved with physiotherapy, then you should see a specialist. He may:
    • perform MRI.
    • offer further treatment, such as prolotherapy.
  • If your spine has degenerated of the disc is badly damaged, your specialist may:
    • suggest surgery
  • If your specialist feels that treatment is not working,
    • a functional rehabilitation programme to improve the range of motion.
    • suggest surgery
  • If treatment has improved your symptoms, you should:
    • continue to practise good neck care

Call +65 64712674 for an appointment to treat Chronic Neck and Nerve Root Pain today. Same day appointment.