The treatment plan for neck pain is devised in accordance with the severity of pain and discomfort. This follows a thorough and complex diagnosis and examination process, which is outlined on this page.
Diagnosing Neck Pain
Reviewing a patient’s history of symptoms is the first step in diagnosing the cause of neck pain. We will consult the patient’s medical history to determine whether any past injuries or treatment may have contributed to the onset of the pain.
A complete review of the patient is carried out to determine any associated symptoms. These may include depressive symptoms and headaches which can be common signs of multifactorial mechanical spine pain. Other signs include worsening neck pain during swallowing, coughing and laboured breathing.
The examination will focus on the location, intensity, duration and radiation of the pain. The neck is examined at rest and in motion and palpation is used to detect tenderness and to understand what aggravates and relieves the pain. Further tests may be needed, which can include X-rays, CAT scans, ultrasound and MRI scans.
Treatment for Neck Pain
Neck pain can often be treated and resolved with conservative treatment, including rest, heat or cold treatment, avoiding re-injury and other forms of non-intrusive gradual rehabilitation.
In cases where there is an acute and sudden onset of neck pain due to a trauma, such as in a road traffic accident or a fall, the first step will usually be the use of a collar and ice treatment for the first 72 hours.
Analgesic medication, local injections of cortisone, topical anaesthetic creams, topical pain-relief patches and muscle relaxants can be helpful to relieve the pain. A variety of surgical procedures including facet joint radiofrequency denervation, facet joint blocks and epidurals, as well as alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, can be used for more advanced diagnoses.
Physical therapy will often be included in the treatment plan, especially when the pain has persisted beyond 1-2 weeks. Side stretches, chin tucks and turning exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist can be very helpful. Further physical therapy for the long term treatment of neck pain may include ultrasound, medical massage and the professional manipulation of the neck’s muscle groups.