Personalized treatments for people with back pain and spine disorders
Published: Sept. 29, 2010
Updated: Oct. 11, 2011
Neck pain is a common reason for health care visits. Fortunately, most neck pain responds to conservative treatment.
The majority of reported neck pain comes from overworking the neck by spraining or straining the muscle and tendons. In most cases the pain will subside with time, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. If it does not, you may need to seek the opinion of your primary doctor to rule out other causes.
Symptoms of neck pain range from soreness to a stabbing-like pain to pinching. In some cases the pain may also radiate down the arm or leg.
The character of the pain varies depending on the structure involved, such as the facet joint or the nerve root.
Your physician will obtain the history of your pain and perform a physical examination to determine the most likely source of your pain.
If needed, additional diagnostic tests will be performed to further investigate the potential source of your pain. These tests include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and electromyography (EMG).
The optimal treatment for neck pain depends on the cause. If the pain is minor, rest and over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may alleviate the symptoms. If the pain is more severe, physical therapy, bracing, or injections can be beneficial.
If these conservative treatments do not improve your pain, surgery may be recommended, depending on the underlying cause. The Duke Spine Center offers a number of procedures to improve your neck pain. Your doctor will discuss which procedures can offer you the best relief.