Health in Focus: Pain in the Neck

Got a pain in the neck?

A new segment called Health in Focus with Dr. Jay Jagannathan explains the causes and treatment for most average aches and pains.

Jagannathan is a local neurosurgeon who has been helping Northern Michigan feel better one patient at a time.

Neck Pain

It’s a common cause for emergency room and primary care visits that’s normally treated without surgery.

Most common causes are strains and osteoarthritis, and rarely can be a symptom of a more serious problem.

“Because the neck is constantly in movement through a patient’s activity level, it’s common to have irritation or muscle strains which can cause pain,” Jagannathan says. “most of the time the pain can be self-limiting, which means that it can get better on its own just with rest and taking it slow.”

Common Causes

  • Muscle Strains
  • Worn Joints
  • Nerve Compression
  • Injuries
  • Diseases

Prevention

  • Bad posture at work, particularly at a desk, can be one cause of neck pain. Positioning computer screens at eye level can help prevent the problem.
  • Good posture during heavy lifting at work or in the gym can help prevent muscle strain.
  • “Smoking is a big factor that we see, and smoking is one of the few lifestyle variables that we see that’s really highly correlative to patients who develop problems with disk disease and neck pain,” Jagannathan says. “Stopping tobacco use is critical.”
  • Sleep with a pillow that’s comfortable and elevates but doesn’t strain or extend the neck too much.

Red Flags

  • Persistent pain for over six weeks
  • Worsening pain
  • Weakness, balance or coordination problems
  • Neck pain with weight loss, headaches, fevers or chills

“Someone that has neck pain that’s been treating it by observation for six to eight weeks, whether that’s with physical therapy or with over-the counter medications and the pain is not resolving, that’s concerning and usually that requires some type of further imaging, whether that’s a CT scan or MRI or X-rays,” Jagannathan says.

For more health information, contact Jagannathan Neurosurgery for neurosurgery, neurology and interventional pain management.

Northern Michigan: 989-701-2538

Upper Peninsula: 906-253-1341

Southeast Michigan: 248-792-6527

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