It’s believed that at least 1.5 billion people around the world are suffering from chronic pain right now, most commonly low back or neck pain. In the U.S., 26 million people suffer from back pain alone, while anywhere from 10-15% of the population has some form of neck pain at any given time.
So what are the treatment options for those dealing with chronic neck pain? Generally, doctors and spinal rehabilitation specialists will start off patients with conservative treatments, and if those fail to work, then move on to more intensive forms of treatment. These treatments can range from outpatient minimally invasive spine surgery to complex neck surgery.
We outline some of the most common treatment options, from most conservative to most intense, below:
- Exercise, Physical Rehabilitation: People affected by neck pain often benefit from an exercise regimen for preventing pain. Since so many of us sit down for extended periods of time, while looking down at our phones constantly, a regular course of exercise and over-the-counter pain medications are the only treatment options needed in some cases.
- Medications: Prescription treatment options can include opioid painkillers, muscle relaxants, or steroids. While steroids can help strengthen your body, painkillers only treat the symptoms, not the cause of chronic neck pain. These medications can also have nasty side effects, like severe constipation, tolerance, and dependence.
- Antidepressants: another popular medication for the treatment of chronic pain. Because chronic low back pain and neck pain have been shown to be linked with depression, certain kinds of antidepressants are effective treatment options.
- Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: In recent years spinal surgeons have developed a number of outpatient treatment options for those with chronic back and neck pain. Typically, people can recover in their own home in just three to five days. In some cases, spinal surgeons make injections into the affected joints or muscles, although there are different procedures for different types of pain.
Of course, the specific treatment you require will vary depending on your unique biology and the source of your pain. If you’re suffering with chronic neck pain, don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible to start the healing process.