Neck Pain and Problems
X-ray of the Head
The neck is located between the head and the shoulders. Because of its location and range-of-motion, it is often left unprotected and subject to injury.
Neck pain can result from many different causes - from injury to inflammatory disease. Causes of neck pain and problems may include the following:
- injury (damage to the muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments)
- herniated cervical disk
- arthritis (i.e., osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- congenital (present at birth) abnormalities of the vertebrae and bones
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for neck pain may include the following:
- blood tests
- x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.
- computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
- myelogram - a procedure that uses dye injected into the spinal canal to make the structure clearly visible on x-rays.
- electromyogram (EMG) - a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
Specific treatment for neck pain will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the condition
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- medication (to reduce inflammation)
- medication (to control pain)
- physical therapy
- neck brace or immobilization
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Online Resources of Orthopaedic Surgery