Understanding Neck Pain: Injuries, Causes, and Treatment

Jul 10, 2023

Neck Pain

The physicians at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics offer personalized neck treatment plans that get you the relief you deserve. Read more to learn about neck injuries, their most common causes, and how neck pain can be treated.

Are you one of the countless individuals who have experienced the nagging discomfort of neck pain? Whether it's a dull ache, sharp twinge, or persistent stiffness, neck pain can be a frustrating and disruptive condition that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. From desk workers spending hours hunched over computers to athletes engaging in physically demanding activities, neck pain can strike anyone, hindering their daily activities and overall quality of life.

In this blog, we will delve into the world of neck pain, exploring its common causes, symptoms, and available relief options. Understanding the root causes and learning how to manage neck pain effectively can empower you to take control of your well-being and find much-needed relief.

What are the most common neck injuries?

  • Muscle strain: One of the primary causes of neck pain is muscle strain or tension in the neck and upper back. Poor posture, overuse of neck muscles, sleeping in an awkward position, or sudden movements can lead to muscle strain.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash is a type of neck injury that commonly occurs due to sudden and forceful back-and-forth movements of the neck, resembling the cracking of a whip. It typically happens in situations like car accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, where the impact causes the head to jerk forward and then snap backward.
  • Herniated or bulging discs: The discs between the vertebrae in the neck can become damaged or herniated, leading to neck pain. When the soft inner material of a disc protrudes or leaks out, it can irritate nearby nerves and cause pain.
  • Degenerative conditions: Conditions like osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis, and spinal stenosis can lead to neck pain. These conditions involve the wear and tear of the bones, joints, and discs in the neck, often due to aging or repetitive stress on the neck.
  • Pinched nerves: Nerves in the neck can become compressed or pinched, causing pain, numbness, or tingling sensations that may radiate down the arm. Pinched nerves can occur due to herniated discs, bone spurs, or spinal misalignment.
  • Stress and tension: Emotional stress and tension can cause muscle stiffness and tightness, leading to neck pain. Stress-related behaviors, like clenching the jaw or tensing the neck and shoulders, can contribute to discomfort.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or infections, can cause neck pain as a symptom. If neck pain is accompanied by other severe symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention.

What causes these neck injuries? 

Neck injuries can occur due to various causes, ranging from sudden accidents to repetitive strain. Here are some of the most common causes of neck injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Car accidents, especially those involving rear-end collisions, can result in whiplash injuries. Whiplash occurs when the head is forcefully jerked forward and backward, straining the neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Falls: Falling from a height, slipping, or tripping can lead to neck injuries. Landing on the head or neck or experiencing a sudden jolt can cause strains, sprains, fractures, or more severe injuries like spinal cord damage.
  • Sports injuries: Participating in contact sports, such as football or rugby, or engaging in activities with a risk of impact or collision, like gymnastics or martial arts, can lead to neck injuries. Direct blows, collisions, or improper techniques can cause strains, sprains, or more severe trauma.
  • Workplace incidents: Jobs that involve heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or prolonged periods of poor posture can contribute to neck injuries. Poor ergonomics, such as improperly adjusted workstations or using vibrating tools, can also strain the neck and lead to injury.
  • Physical assault: Physical altercations or assaults that involve blows, punches, or attacks to the head and neck region can result in neck injuries. These injuries can range from soft tissue damage to fractures or dislocations.
  • Sports-related overuse: Engaging in sports or physical activities that require repetitive motions or strain on the neck, such as swimming, tennis, or weightlifting, can lead to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries may include muscle strains, tendonitis, or stress fractures.
  • Sudden forceful movements: Any sudden and forceful movement of the neck, such as a sudden twist or jerk, can cause injury. This can occur during accidents, physical altercations, or while participating in certain activities.

Any of these problems can cause severe or long-term neck pain. Although many severe neck problems can be treated successfully with surgery, surgical treatment doesn’t guarantee a pain-free neck. Here are the various ways neck pain can be treated by the pain management providers at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics. 

How can neck pain be treated?

  • Steroid injections: Receiving steroid injections in your cervical spine can help reduce inflammation to relieve post-surgery neck pain and improve movement. Steroid injections are a complementary therapy designed to support physical therapy efforts. 
  • Facet joint injections: If post-surgery neck pain is believed to be the result of physical trauma or a degenerative condition like arthritis, it can usually be treated with a facet joint injection. It’s administered directly to the facet joints of your cervical spine, where it blocks the specific nerve signals that are causing pain.
  • Disc decompression: Cervical disc decompression surgery is used to relieve pressure on an affected nerve root, usually by removing small pieces of bone that lay over the root, or by clearing away material beneath the root to ease pressure and give the nerve more space.
  • Spinal cord stimulation: Also a common treatment for lower back pain, a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is a device that’s surgically placed under your skin. The electrical current that the device sends to the affected nerves in your neck interrupts the nerves’ signals to alleviate pain. 
  • Radiofrequency ablation: This minimally-invasive procedure, also known as a cervical block, uses X-ray guidance to direct a radiofrequency (RF) needle alongside specific nerves in your cervical spine. A small amount of electrical current passes through the needle to the nerve, where it disrupts the nerve’s ability to transmit signals. 

If you experience neck pain, the providers at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics will create a personalized treatment plan for you that best fits your individual needs. If you need a treatment plan for neck pain, select the “Book Now” button to schedule an appointment at one of Garden State Pain and Orthopedics’ locations in Edison, Jersey City, West Orange, Clifton, or Hazlet.