Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of cervical pain

Written by: Dr. Fernando Torre Mollinedo
Published: | Updated: 25/02/2020
Edited by: Roser Bernés Ubasos

cervical pain

What is neck pain?

Neck pain, neck pain called, may present as mild discomfort or severe pain in the back of the neck that radiates down the neck and head or to the shoulders. In most cases, you can not find a specific cause of the pain.

Neck pain may be due to an injury, a muscle or mechanical problem, a pinched nerve caused by the increase in volume of one of the disks located between the vertebrae or due to cervical arthrosis, which is wear of the vertebrae of the cervical spine.

If the pain is acute sudden and intense is called "acute neck pain" and if the pain lasts more than three months, is called "chronic neck pain". Neck pain is a very common picture that strikes more often in women than in men. Most people will have neck pain at some point in their lives.


What causes neck pain?

Some causes include: trauma or injury, diseases related to the cervical spine (herniated disc, cervical osteoarthritis, spondylitis and is rarer damage caused by tumors or infections), stress and worries, I fall asleep in poor posture or the prolonged computer use.

Finally, traffic accidents, including the so-called "whiplash" can cause acute or chronic neck pain, needing rehabilitation and sometimes infiltrations.


What are the symptoms neck pain?

Widespread pain in the cervical area as well as stiffness in the neck muscles. The pain may radiate down towards the shoulders or between the shoulder blades, ie, the shoulder blades. You can also radiate to the arm, hand, upward toward the head or cause headache. The neck muscles are tense, sore and hard to the touch.

Acute pain can cause abnormal neck posture in which the head is pushed to one side, this is called torticollis.


How a proper diagnosis is achieved?

In most cases, neck pain can be diagnosed by a scan of the cervical region by a specialist Pain Unit to assess neck movements (flexion, extension, rotation and lateralization), find painful points in muscles by palpation, explore the joints of the spine and possible entrapments or "grip" of the cervical nerves.

X-rays, scan (CT) imaging (MRI) or blood tests may be needed to make a more accurate diagnosis. 

How is neck pain treated?

In an acute neck pain of limited duration painkillers, such as paracetamol, or anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, muscle relaxants are recommended. Using collar it is recommended during the first 24 - 48 hours to relax the painful region, but it is not advisable to extend its use for a long time. Manual therapy, by the rehabilitator or physical therapist, is also an alternative. Perform exercises series of flexion, extension and rotation of the neck, gently and slowly, without producing pain, several times a dayFor longer-lasting problems such as three or more months a rehabilitation treatment is recommended with physiotherapist and muscle training. There are other pain relieving techniques such as TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation), iontophoresis (introduce pain medication through the skin by electric currents) and infiltrations in the spinal joints or muscles affected. 

What prognosis is neck pain?

It depends on the underlying cause of pain. The prognosis is generally good if the patient remains active and get adequate treatment without delay.


What can you do yourself if you have neck pain?

Be as active as possible. Try to go to work and continue their normal daily activities, bed rest is not necessary. If you have a collar, you should not be used more than one or two days.

Remember that neck pain is rarely caused by a serious health problem and most cases go away in a week.If you have neck pain for longer periods, it is a good idea to consult your medical specialist.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Fernando Torre Mollinedo
Pain Medicine

Dr. Torre is an expert in the treatment of pain. Specialist Anesthesiology 1994 is currently the Head of the Pain Unit at Quirón Bizkaia. His specialty is fibromyalgia, a disorder whose treatment has conducted several studies and investigations. His prestige is not only national, has since participated in numerous conferences abroad.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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