John S. Michels, MD, is a top-level pain management specialist with a busy practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. His exceptional medical skill and compassionate care for anyone experiencing chronic pain is widely recognized by his patients as well as his colleagues.
Read what this award-winning expert says about the causes of prolonged neck pain and four highly effective, minimally invasive treatments he offers for this common complaint.
Your neck is a complex structure of bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and nerves, any of which is susceptible to various injuries and conditions that can leave you with long-term pain.
The most common causes of chronic neck pain are:
Too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone, a hectic drive through rush hour traffic, and even reading in bed can strain neck muscles.
Like other joints in your body, those in your neck tend to wear down with age and/or overuse. Osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis, is the most common cause of joint deterioration.
Herniated discs, bony overgrowths (bone spurs), and thickening of the ligaments that hold your spine together can cause narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis). This compresses the nerves running through and exiting your spine and can lead to painful nerve irritation and inflammation that you may feel in your neck, shoulders, arms, or head.
Whiplash, which occurs when your head is jerked backward and then forward, is a common cause of chronic neck pain. Trauma sustained during a car accident, a fall, or a hard hit during a sports event can result in whiplash and other damage to structures within the cervical spine (neck).
Dr. Michels develops individualized strategies for treating chronic neck pain that starts with accurately diagnosing the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Depending on the results of your evaluation, he generally recommends conservative measures such as physical therapy, activity modification, and even dietary changes to help relieve your discomfort.
As part of your comprehensive treatment plan, he may also recommend therapies designed to tackle your pain during the rehab phase so you gain the most benefit from therapy.
Four of the effective treatments Dr. Michels provides for chronic neck pain are:
These injections contain anti-inflammatory (corticosteroids) and numbing medications (anesthetic) that Dr. Michels injects into the epidural space around your spinal cord to soothe irritated and painful nerves.
Guided imaging allows him to accurately target the nerves responsible for your pain. Results of these injections generally last for three to six months but bring permanent pain relief for some individuals.
Facet joint injections contain the same pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications as epidural steroid injections but are targeted at nerves serving the tiny facet joints in your neck.
Like injections, radiofrequency ablation blocks pain signals sent by spinal nerves to your brain. But the results generally last much longer than those expected with an anesthetic nerve block, from nine months to two years.
Spinal cord stimulation uses a small, implantable medical device to deliver a painless electrical current to irritated spinal nerves. This effectively disrupts their ability to transmit pain messages to your brain and offers long-term pain relief when other measures fail.
For more information about the many effective therapies Dr. Michels offers for real relief from chronic pain, schedule an evaluation today.