Neck pain ranks just behind lower back pain as one of the most common medical complaints in the United States. Some sources of neck pain produce symptoms that extend to nearby areas such as the shoulders and arms. However, neck pain is sometimes limited to the neck area, which is what happens if you have cervicalgia, the term for a type of discomfort that originates in the neck and produces symptoms that stay local. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how it can be treated.
Cervicalgia is simple, isolated neck pain. Therefore, it’s not likely to be the result of a “pinched” or irritated nerve or complex structural problems. A common culprit is chronically poor upper back, neck, and/or shoulder posture. Whiplash and other head-jarring motions may also contribute to localized neck pain, as could osteoporosis, various forms of arthritis, and spinal curvature disorders such as kyphosis. Some more severe conditions may eventually require surgical intervention, such as kyphoplasty surgery. Beverly Hills patients with cervicalgia may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:
• Neck tenderness or stiffness • Limited range of motion within the neck area • Neck pain that’s dull, sharp, or pulsating • Nausea and dizziness • Headaches • Neck spasms
Because potentially problematic nerve compression isn’t usually part of the equation, cervicalgia isn’t normally considered a serious condition. Nonetheless, it’s best to get an accurate diagnosis to make a positive confirmation. This process typically involves a physical exam, gentle range of motion tests, and a discussion of the symptoms. If an underlying issue such as arthritis is suspected, image tests may be performed. Image tests may also be necessary if there’s a need to rule out other possible sources of localized neck pain that could produce similar symptoms.
If cervicalgia symptoms are mild, you may be advised to try neck stretches or similar physical therapy exercises, but your specific treatment plan will depend on what’s causing your localized neck pain. Oftentimes, the source of this type of neck pain is a soft tissue problem. If this is the case with your cervicalgia, treatment may involve:
• A brief period of rest—too much rest can weaken neck and shoulder muscles • Range-of-motion exercises specific to the neck area • Postural exercises intended to improve your upper back/neck posture • Soft tissue massages • Physical therapy targeting soft tissues within the neck and upper back area
If your cervicalgia is associated with arthritis or osteoporosis, treatment may include taking additional steps to minimize soft tissue inflammation and prevent neck bones and joints from becoming increasingly porous and fragile. Recommendations often involve:
• Eating fruits and veggies rich in beneficial nutrients • Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to boost bone strength • Bisphosphonates and similar medications
Some forms of neck pain, such as what you might feel when first waking up, may go away fairly quickly once you get up and moving. However, lingering or recurring neck pain shouldn’t be ignored. Even if your persistent neck discomfort turns out not to be cervicalgia, getting an accurate diagnosis can prevent more serious neck or upper spine problems from developing.
If you’re experiencing severe or prolonged neck or back pain, make sure to see a Beverly Hills spine surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment. The pioneering spine specialists at The Spine Institute have years of experience successfully diagnosing and treating neck and back pain. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.