Most people have struggled through temporary neck pain caused by a muscle strain or whiplash injury. These injuries can be incredibly painful, but unlike chronic neck pain, they heal in time.
Chronic neck pain poses an entirely different challenge. This type of pain seldom responds to conventional medical care, leaving you to struggle with daily pain that can become debilitating.
If you deal with chronic neck pain, it’s time to connect with our experienced team at Florida Pain Medicine. We have helped many patients with personalized care and advanced therapies that successfully ease their pain.
Here’s what you need to know about the top five causes of chronic neck pain.
The discs located between the vertebrae in your neck (cervical spine) consist of a strong outer layer enclosing a gel-like inner core. This design is perfect for absorbing shock and supporting neck movement.
Over time, the outer layer degenerates, the fibers break down, and weak areas develop. Pressure from the vertebrae push the inner gel through these damaged areas, causing a bulging disc that presses into nerves.
If the outer layer tears, the gel leaks out, causing nerve irritation and inflammation. Whether the disc is bulging or fully herniated (torn), you end up with chronic neck pain.
The joints connecting vertebrae, called facet joints, have the same structure as your knees and other synovial joints in your body. The bones in the facet joints are covered by a protective layer of cartilage that breaks down over years of joint movement. Eventually, the underlying bones are exposed, and osteoarthritis develops.
Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease develops as the discs lose moisture, stiffen, and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae. These changes contribute to herniated discs and osteoarthritis. Degenerated discs may also lead to instability in the cervical spine.
An opening in the center of each vertebra creates the spinal canal, a protected passageway for the nerves in the spinal cord. Vertebrae also have openings allowing groups of nerves to leave the spine and travel throughout your body.
Spinal stenosis occurs when herniated discs, degenerated discs, arthritis, bone spurs, and thickened ligaments protrude into the opening. As the opening narrows, the nerves become pinched, and you have chronic neck pain.
Radiculopathy, better known as a pinched nerve, is a common cause of chronic neck pain because degenerative conditions frequently compress the nerve roots.
In addition to causing neck pain, radiculopathy may cause symptoms along the nerves traveling from your neck to your shoulders, arms, upper back, and chest.
However, it’s most common to experience pain, tingling, or numbness in your arm and hand. In severe cases, pinched cervical nerves cause muscle weakness.
Treating chronic neck pain
Chronic neck pain is notorious for resisting standard medical care. As interventional medicine, regenerative medicine, and pain management specialists, we offer many advanced therapies that effectively ease neck pain.
Interventional treatments, such as epidural injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation, target the nerves causing your pain. These treatments use medications to reduce inflammation and anesthetics, radiofrequency energy, or electrical impulses to stop pain messages carried by the nerves to your brain.
Regenerative medicine uses the body’s natural cells to stimulate healing in the injured neck tissues. For example, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections contain platelets isolated from your blood. After we inject PRP, platelets release substances that activate healing activities, reduce inflammation, and support tissue regeneration.
You don’t need to put up with chronic neck pain. Call the skilled team at Florida Pain Medicine today to learn about your treatment choices.