Common neck conditions include regional myofascial pain syndrome and cervical degenerative disk disease. Whiplash occurring as a result of a motor vehicle accident is another common etiology of neck pain.
As with back injuries, physicians assessing patients for neck pain complaints should obtain a patient history, conduct a physical examination, and review diagnostic testing.
Numerous nonpharmacologic approaches are available to address neck and back pain: physical therapy, therapeutic massage, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and bracing.
Pharmacologic interventions include over-the-counter medications (acetaminophen, NSAIDs), prescription NSAIDs, skeletal muscle relaxants, adjuvant therapies (eg, anticonvulsants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), and opiates.
Interventional procedures may also be considered to relieve neck and back pain: steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulators, and botulinum toxin injections.
Surgery should be carefully considered, according to Dr. Nalamachu, as it is typically associated with a high failure rate. Operative procedures may often address the structural problem, but they do not always address the pain.
“As the population is aging, it is important that healthcare providers know how to diagnose and manage these conditions in an efficient way,” he said. “By doing so, we can improve their function and sometimes prevent them from becoming a victim of chronic pain.”
- Dillingham T. Evaluation and management of low back pain: An overview. State Art Rev. 1995;9:559-574.
- American College of Physicians. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Available at: https://www.acponline.org/mobile/clinicalguidelines/guidelines/low_back_pain_1007.html. Accessed August 13, 2015.
This article originally appeared on MPR