Before You Consider Neck Surgery, Have You Tried These Treatments?

Before You Consider Neck Surgery, Have You Tried These Treatments?

One of our top priorities here at Yale Neurosurgery New London in New London, Connecticut, is providing minimally invasive surgical procedures for painful back and neck conditions that affect your mobility and overall quality of life.

However, Dr. Patrick Doherty, who leads the team at Yale Neurosurgery, is committed to offering the most effective treatments available to residents in and around our Connecticut community.

You may be surprised to learn that sometimes surgery is not the only, or even the best, treatment option for eliminating the neck pain that’s making your life miserable. 

Nonsurgical treatments that can relieve neck pain 

After a thorough evaluation and depending on those results, Dr. Doherty typically recommends trying one or more conservative treatments before he suggests surgery for your neck pain

These treatments may include physical therapy, injections, or posture correction.

Physical therapy

The goals for guided physical therapy programs designed for neck pain include:

These therapies may include passive treatments such as massage and/or ultrasound therapy to relax tight muscles and increase circulation.

Active physical therapy includes exercises to increase flexibility and strength in the neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles.

Note that you should avoid physical therapy for any condition that’s causing significant spinal instability, such as a vertebral fracture or severe degenerative disease, until Dr. Doherty has evaluated the issue. 

Therapeutic injections

When your neck pain hasn’t responded to oral medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or muscle relaxants, you may benefit from a therapeutic injection.

Depending on what’s causing your discomfort, Dr. Doherty may recommend trying an injection that contains a steroid as well as an anesthetic to block pain signals and relieve inflammation that’s compressing and irritating nerves within your cervical spine (neck).

These in-office treatments are sometimes described as a nerve block, facet joint injection, or epidural injection. Dr. Doherty uses advanced X-ray imaging to ensure the correct placement of the injection. Pain relief can last from weeks to several months. Injections are often helpful when your discomfort makes it difficult to fully participate in a physical therapy program.

Posture correction 

Although it may sound too simple, poor posture is one of the main causes of neck pain and tension-type headaches.

Static posture refers to the way your body aligns when you’re sitting or standing. In the case of neck pain, a forward head posture (FHP) is often the underlying cause of your discomfort.

Often occurring when you’re working at a computer or using a tablet or phone, FHP causes you to thrust your head forward. This shifts your head out of proper alignment with your thoracic spine (mid to upper back) and lumbar spine (lower back) and places tremendous strain on your neck, shoulders, and back.

A physical therapy program crafted to relieve neck pain often includes a posture evaluation and exercises as well as other strategies to help correct misalignment throughout your day. 

Don’t assume that surgery is your only option for neck pain relief. Schedule an evaluation at Yale Neurosurgery New London today.

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