Neck or cervical pain can be caused by a variety of different injuries and degenerative conditions. Neck pain frequently follows motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and other trauma. The mechanism of injury is important and can help the doctor determine which structures were damaged. An extremely common injury occurs related to something referred to as the whiplash phenomena. This happens when the neck is traumatically and rapidly moved forward and backward. This motion can injure discs, joints, muscles, and ligaments in the cervical region. Treatment must be directed at those structure(s) in order to successfully control this type of traumatic pain.
Some patients will have pain simply related to degeneration of their disc or other spinal structures. Neck pain is frequently associated with headaches. This can be the result of normal wear and tear or the development of arthritis in an area that was previously injured. The neck is comprised of a variety of different structures including discs, joints, and muscles, and any one (or more than one) of these structures can cause pain. It is important to identify which of these structures is (are) causing symptoms and then appropriately direct care to those specific problems. It is important to note that some patients will need surgery to try and control their cervical pain or to repair a damaged structure in the neck. While cervical spine surgery is often successful and, in fact more frequently than lumbar surgery, there is a small group of patients who will have persistent pain following surgery. There are many treatment options available for patients with persistent pain following cervical spine surgery.