Life is too short to live with persistent neck pain. However, finding effective pain relief can be a tricky process.
As an interventional pain management specialist, Vladimir Fiks, MD, knows that neck and spine pain can have many origins, and each cause can respond to different forms of treatment.
In this blog, Dr. Fiks, who has treated many patients with neck pain at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, explains what the cervical spine is along with three types of injections that can help relieve pain in this area.
Your cervical spine contains seven vertebrae, and they connect your skull to the chest region of your spine. These bones connect to each other by way of their facet joints, and between the bones are intervertebral discs, which provide cushioning.
From a structural standpoint, the cervical spine supports your head and protects your spinal cord. However, it also contains delicate nerves that exit to the rest of your body through small gaps located on each side. Plus, you have soft tissues, such as tendons, muscles, and ligaments, which provide stability and allow you to move your neck.
All of these components work together so you can move, feel, and process the world around you. However, this also means a lot of things can go wrong, which can lead to pain and dysfunction in the neck.
If you have chronic neck pain due to issues with spinal nerve roots in the region, a cervical epidural steroid injection could provide relief. This treatment involves delivering anti-inflammatory medication directly into the epidural space, which is the area surrounding the spinal nerves.
Neck pain that involves nerve roots in the spine often causes symptoms that radiate from the neck into the shoulders, arms, and even the hands. Common conditions that irritate nerve roots in the cervical spine include:
This treatment is estimated to give at least partial pain relief in 40-84% of individuals with chronic neck pain.
When chronic neck pain involves degenerative changes in the spine, such as arthritis, or an injury, such as strain or whiplash, cervical facet injections could be an effective solution.
Facet joint injections focus on the area where two vertebrae meet — the joint. These areas in the cervical spine help facilitate healthy movement. However, they’re also vulnerable to degeneration and damage, either through aging or traumatic injury.
Signs of cervical facet joint issues include:
Treating facet joints can reduce pain, enhance function, and improve flexibility by decreasing inflammation.
Finally, there’s also a joint injection that doesn’t involve medication at all. Instead, Dr. Fiks uses a type of needle to deliver heat to the problematic nerve, which disables it so it stops sending pain signals. It’s called radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Unlike an epidural injection, which treats nerve roots inside the epidural space, RFA addresses nerves as they exit the spine. Since RFA kills nerve tissue, it often provides longer-term pain relief than other treatments.
Chronic neck pain conditions that often respond positively to RFA include:
It’s important to note that nerves can grow back, so you may need RFA again in the future.
These are just a few of the injections Dr. Fiks might recommend to ease your chronic neck pain. But before recommending any type of treatment, he first thoroughly assesses your condition and reviews your treatment history.
Do you have chronic neck pain? Learn about your treatment options by calling 971-233-4199 or booking an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.