Cervical Neck Pain
Neck pain can be a part of getting older. The bones in your neck make up your cervical spine. They can start to wear down as you age, a condition healthcare providers call cervical spondylosis. It can also happen from a condition you’re born with, or after an injury. This pain can radiate down into your back and shoulders. It can hurt to move and do all the things you want to do.
At Cleveland Clinic, we specialize in diagnosing all types of neck pain. And we work to help you manage chronic pain, so you can get back to taking care of everyday things.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Cervical Neck Pain Care?
Pain is personal. One-size-fits-all care doesn’t work. That’s why you need a treatment plan designed just for you. We take the time to listen to you so we can recommend the right care for your needs and goals.
Skilled collaborative providers:
Neck pain can be tricky to diagnose and treat. Your team will likely include neurologists, surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, pain specialists and psychologists. They’ll all work together to help you get the best outcome — physically and mentally. Meet our team.
We often combine different treatment methods to help relieve and manage all levels of your pain. Depending on your symptoms and needs, your program might also include physical therapy and behavioral medicine sessions.
Chronic neck pain can affect more than your body. It can also wear you down emotionally. We treat the whole “you” by offering counseling and support programs that focus on the effects of ongoing neck pain in your day-to-day life.
Types of Neck Pain We Treat
Your neck (cervical spine) starts at the base of your skull. It has seven bones (vertebrae) that are separated from each other by disks made of cartilage and a gel-like substance. These disks cushion your bones as you move.
Nerves in your neck carry electrical impulses between your spine and your brain to help you move. When you have a condition or injury that affects your neck, these nerves send signals to your brain, and you feel pain.
Maybe your cervical neck pain started suddenly after an injury — like whiplash after a car accident. This is acute neck pain, which usually goes away in time with medical or at-home treatments. If your pain lasts longer — usually at least three months — we call it chronic pain.
Whether you have acute or chronic neck pain, there are a number of things that can cause that constant ache. These include:
- Bone spurs.
- Cervical spinal stenosis.
- Herniated disk (slipped, ruptured or bulging disk in the neck).
- Degenerative disk disease.
- Pinched nerve in the neck (cervical radiculopathy).
At your first visit, our medical spine experts will give you a physical exam. And they’ll talk with you to learn more about how neck pain affects your life. This will help us design your personalized treatment plan.
Our specialists may recommend certain tests to look for degeneration in your cervical spine and other causes of neck pain. These may include:
We may also do neurological testing to check:
- Balance (how you stand).
- Gait (how you walk).
- How you perceive pain.
- Range of motion (how you move your neck).
Providers Who Treat Cervical Neck Pain
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Cervical Neck Pain Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
Our specialists combine different therapies to treat neck pain and help you cope with it. We craft a treatment plan that’s specific to your cervical neck pain issues.
Our physical therapy experts develop specific exercise programs to help relieve your neck pain. We have you do these exercises with us and also on your own at home.
Your provider may recommend you use medications to relieve some neck pain symptoms and reduce inflammation in your cervical spine. They may prescribe:
- Anticonvulsants to help reduce nerve response.
- Antidepressants to change pain signals to your brain.
- Creams or patches on the skin (topical medications) to help relieve pain.
- Muscle relaxants to help release tight muscle tissue.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain.
We may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and swelling near nerves in your neck. Your provider may also have you wear a cervical collar (neck brace) to keep your neck from moving.
If your neck pain doesn’t respond to medical treatment, our surgeons can help. We may recommend surgery for persistent pain or to correct deformities of the neck. We may also recommend surgery if neurological symptoms like headache, cognitive impairment or weakness develop or get worse.
We use minimally invasive spine surgery to:
- Decompress nerves.
- Improve alignment of your neck vertebrae.
- Improve stability of vertebrae in your neck.
We use surgery to repair fractures (vertebroplasty). We also replace damaged cervical disks with artificial disks (cervical artificial disk replacement). Our surgeons use advanced tools and techniques for these precise surgeries, including:
- Exoscopic surgery: Our specialists use a high-definition video monitoring system (exoscope) to see detailed magnified views of your cervical spine. They’ll use the exoscope and very small instruments to repair bone and nerve damage.
- Expandable cages: Your surgeon will implant a plastic or metal cage between your vertebrae after removing the damaged bone and disks. The cage supports your cervical spine and maintain space between the vertebrae in your neck.
Cleveland Clinic behavioral pain specialists work with you to develop effective ways to help you manage your cervical neck pain. They can teach you simple skills to reduce pain and its impact on your daily activities.
Chronic Neck Pain Management at Cleveland Clinic
When neck pain becomes a long-term part of your life, we may refer you to our comprehensive pain recovery experts. Our specialists offer three programs to help you cope with the effects of neck pain during your daily activities:
- Back on TREK (Transform. Restore. Empower. Knowledge.). This 10-week program includes behavioral medicine sessions (including meetings with behavioral pain specialists), educational resources and physical therapy with a therapist trained in relieving spine pain.
- TREK for Success. This single session class helps you develop pain management skills and will help you prepare for cervical spine surgery. You’ll learn what to expect and how to manage pain after surgery.
- Chronic Pain Neurorehabilitation. This four-to-six week intensive daytime program offers both physical and behavioral therapies to help you manage complex pain. We’ll also help you craft a personalized treatment plan that helps you maintain ongoing wellness.
Taking the Next Step
Cervical neck pain can be, well, a stressful pain in the neck. If you’re having pain all day, every day, it’s natural to be anxious, frustrated and fed up. But these emotions can create more neck pain. And you don’t want that. At Cleveland Clinic, we’re here to help you find relief. Our experts will work with you to understand the whole picture of your pain and build a treatment plan that’s right for you.
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