When Does Neck Pain Require Surgery?

Doctor shares information with a neck pain patient

Neck pain has several causes, and the source of the discomfort may dictate the type of treatment a patient receives. Some conditions necessitate surgery, while others can be treated with physical therapy. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, serving patients throughout northern New Jersey, explains how neck pain may be a sign of a disorder that requires surgery.

Symptoms of Neck Pain

Neck pain stems from various issues and may manifest differently in each person. The symptoms someone experiences with neck pain may help narrow down the cause and the severity of the pain. Common signs of this issue range from mild to severe and include:

  • Headache: Pain near the back of the neck that shoots to the head
  • Muscle spasms: Sudden contractions of muscles near the neck, often involuntary
  • Pain with head movement: When twisting and turning the head becomes painful or straining
  • Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity with mild pressure applied to the neck
  • Tension: A feeling of tightness in the muscles in the neck
  • Numbness or Tingling Sensation: Traveling down one or both arms
  • Pain: Traveling down one or both arms

Potential Causes of Neck Pain

As with any condition, treatment options vary depending on the cause of the neck pain. There are many possible causes — including diseases or disorders — that could lead to neck pain. For instance, some neck pain causes are:

  • Age: Neck pain is a side effect of several conditions more common in older adults, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and spinal stenosis.
  • Over-straining: Overuse of the neck muscles during repetitive actions or strenuous activities may lead to stiffness and pain.
  • Injury: Whiplash or other trauma from a sudden forced movement of the neck or head may cause a rebound in the opposite direction. In extreme cases, the muscles, ligaments, discs, vertebral joints, and nerve roots in the spinal cord in the neck may be disrupted.
  • Conditions: Although rare, a potential reason for neck pain may be masses, tumors, cysts, bone spurs, and other growths. Additionally, other health issues and pre-existing conditions like meningitis, cancer, and herniated discs, all are possible causes.
  • Posture: Sitting at a computer desk or in the same place for extended periods can lead to weak abdominal muscles, which may affect spine posture and ultimately spawn neck pain.

Non-Surgical Neck Pain Treatment

Doctors may take X-rays, CT scans, MRI images, or conduct tests to determine the cause. Once a physician has detected the source of the patient’s neck pain, they will discuss treatments based on the longevity and the severity of the symptoms.

With mild cases of neck pain caused by aging, posture, or straining, a doctor might recommend the patient try finding relief at home or by engaging with a doctor of physical therapy for stretching plus strength conditioning. Some conservative pain management solutions include:

When Neck Pain May Require Spine Surgery

In more severe cases, neck pain may require more serious treatment. While spine surgery often is a last-resort treatment option, a doctor may recommend it as the best form of neck pain treatment if:

Individuals experiencing intense neck pain should reach out to a medical professional to evaluate the cause and discuss whether spine surgery is a necessary treatment option. Those who develop neck pain after an injury or are experiencing it along with chills, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, should seek medical attention immediately.

Find Expert Neck Pain Diagnosis and Treatment in Northern New Jersey

Individuals in northern New Jersey who are looking for neck pain treatment should consider Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics. The dedicated and caring team consists of board-certified neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, pain management doctors, physiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, and certified physical therapists. These professionals have expertise in treating and diagnosing neck pain and conducting spine surgery. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics is the state’s most comprehensive spine care center and offers trusted and professional specialized services for all issues related to the brain, spine, and nerves.

To schedule an appointment with Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, or to learn more about neck pain treatment and spine surgery, contact us today.

Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics