Given its relatively small size, pain in your neck can have a surprisingly large impact on your overall wellness, as well as your ability to function. From driving your car to sleeping well, this type of discomfort can limit your life in some very significant ways. That is why seeking professional help for neck pain is essential.
Standing ready is the team at Summit Pain Alliance, located in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, California. Our providers excel in treating painful spine conditions, including those that lead to neck pain.
To answer the question we pose in the title of this blog: it’s nearly always a good idea to see a specialist when it comes to neck pain. Here’s why.
The role of your neck
Your neck is made up of seven small vertebrae that come together to form your cervical spine. These vertebrae are responsible for supporting your head and allow ample movement so that you can observe the world around you.
Furthermore, your neck is also the gateway between your central and peripheral nervous systems. Thanks to this function, a problem in your cervical spine can be quite painful, and symptoms can radiate into your shoulders, arms, and hands.
Common causes of neck pain
Many problems can lead to pain in your neck, including:
- Herniated cervical disc
- Cervical spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
These conditions can create several levels of neck pain, including:
- Acute — less than four weeks
- Subacute — 4-12 weeks,
- Chronic — three months or more
Whether your neck pain is temporary or it’s setting up for the long haul, seeking our help is always a good idea given the importance of this area in terms of function and potential complications.
Treating neck pain
As with most musculoskeletal issues, early intervention with neck pain improves your outcome.
To illustrate our point, let’s take a look at both an acute and a chronic problem: Whiplash and degenerative disc disease.
Whiplash develops when your head is violently thrown back and forth (such as in a car accident), which can strain the soft and hard tissues in your neck. In many cases, the ensuing discomfort subsides after a few weeks, but whiplash can also create ongoing problems with headaches, neck pain, and cognitive function. By coming to see us soon after your accident, we can ensure that you get the right treatment so that you can avoid ongoing issues.
Now let’s examine degenerative disc disease, which is a progressive issue that occurs when the discs in your cervical spine begin to lose moisture and become brittle. These weakened discs are more vulnerable to rupture (herniated disc), which leads to localized pain, as well as symptoms that radiate down into your arms (cervical radiculopathy).
Our goal with degenerative conditions in your neck is to take the steps necessary to prevent more serious issues in the future. In other words, if your neck aches, it’s worth having us take a look so we can mitigate your risks moving forward.
Ultimately, our message is that any neck pain warrants medical attention.
To get on the road to relief from your neck pain, contact one of our two locations in Santa Rosa or Petaluma, California.