When you have chronic neck pain, your whole world turns upside down. Even the simplest of tasks may seem impossible when you're suffering from pain originating in your cervical spine due to a neck problem.
Dr. Kenneth Varley and the team at Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, are experts in treating chronic pain in your neck and spine. One common effective treatments to control your pain is, a general term for certain types of injections aimed at stopping the pain at its source.
Causes of neck pain
When you’re dealing with chronic neck pain, you can experience pain anywhere in your neck and it may radiate down into your arms and hands. Your pain could result from a previous or current injury or degeneration in your spine.
Pain in your neck is often debilitating and, when severe, keeps you from performing your normal activities. Several conditions lead to neck pain, some of which include:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Sprains and strains
- Degenerative disc disease
- Compression fractures
Your posture is another contributing factor when it comes to neck pain. Poor posture — especially repeatedly tilting your head down to look at a screen — puts extra stress on your muscles and ligaments, causing chronic pain in your neck and shoulders.
What injections can address neck pain?
Dr. Varley uses different injections to manage your chronic or acute neck pain, depending on the location and the cause of your pain. He could recommend:
- Epidural steroid injections
- Nerve injections
- Medial branch blocks
- Facet injections
Nerve blocks are one of the most versatile treatments. Dr. Varley recommends a nerve block if you've tried other conservative measures — such as physical therapy and over-the-counter medications — without significant pain relief.
What to expect with an injection
If Dr. Varley recommends an injection for your neck pain, it's a good idea to understand what to expect during the procedure. We perform this treatment right in our office.
When you arrive, you change into a gown and lie on a table in the procedure room. Dr. Varley first injects numbing medication at the site of your neck injection to keep you comfortable during the procedure. He then uses fluoroscopy or ultrasound to find the exact location causing your pain.
When you're comfortable, Dr. Varley inserts a needle into the epidural space of your cervical spine — the space around your spinal cord that’s filled with fluid, fat, and small blood vessels — and injects pain-relieving medication at the immediate site of your pain. The medicine numbs the nerves that are damaged and cause pain.
After the nerve injection, you go to the recovery area, where we monitor you for any adverse effects. Once we've cleared you to go home, you need to relax while your nerve injection gets to work.
You should feel immediate relief from the nerve injection, and it can last up to several months. You'll have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Varley to discuss your results and the next steps in your neck pain treatment.