The cervical spine is the neck region of the spinal column and consists of 7 bones known as the vertebrae (C1-C7 vertebrae) that extend from the skull to the upper torso and are separated from one another by the intervertebral discs. These cervical discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to move freely. All the bones, muscles and ligaments of the neck play a very vital role of supporting the head and allowing for motion. When any of these become inflammation, show any abnormalities or are injured, then the result is neck stiffness or pain, which then calls for a cervical spine treatment.
Causes of Neck pain
- Worn joints: With age, the neck joints tend to wear down. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between the vertebrae to deteriorate resulting in your body forming bone spurs, which affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Muscle strains: Overuse is the main cause of muscle strains on the neck.
- Nerve compression: Bone spurs or herniated discs in the vertebrae of the neck can press on the nerves that are branching out of the spinal cord.
- Injuries: Injuries such as a whiplash injury can strain the soft tissues of the neck.
Other causes of neck pain include diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, spondylosis, herniated cervical disc and spinal stenosis.
Diagnosis of Neck Pain
During diagnosis for neck pain, the doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical exam as well as order one or more of the following tests and imaging exams to help in determining the cause of the neck pain:
- Blood tests
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- Lumbar puncture
Treatment of Neck Pain
The type of treatment recommended for neck pain will depend on the diagnostic results. Mild to moderate neck pain usually responds to self-care within two to three weeks.
Other neck pain treatments include:
- Medication such as pain medication and muscle relaxants
- Therapy such as:
-Physical therapy which includes alignment and strengthening exercises
-Traction which involves using weights to stretch the neck
-Short-term immobilization such as using a soft collar to relieve pain
Neck surgery is only considered when all the other neck treatment approaches have failed. Surgical procedures for treating neck pain include:
- Anterior cervical discectomy: This is the most common surgical procedure performed to relieve neck pain that is caused by a nerve-pinching herniated disc. It involves the surgeon making an incision in the front of the neck right through the windpipe and exposing the spine. The herniated disc is removed plus any bone spurs that may be causing pain. The space that is left between the vertebrae is refilled with a piece of bone or other material, thus fusing the adjacent vertebrae together.
- Laminoplasty: This procedure mainly helps individuals with spinal stenosis by creating more room within the spinal canal for the spinal cord. It involves the surgeon reconstructing the vertebral lamina to enlarge the spinal canal.
- Cervical spinal fusion: This is a surgical procedure that joins two vertebrae that are grinding against each other because the disc between them has been worn out or herniated. A metal implant or bone graft is used to join them.
NOTE: Duration of the procedure, downtime, and recovery vary on a case by case basis
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
Dr Nicandro Figueiredo is considered the best Spinal Surgeon in Dubai.