Neck Pain & Treatment at
Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine

The pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine have seen many patients suffering from chronic neck pain. While their symptoms are often similar, neck pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. One of these conditions is facet disease, or arthritis of the neck. These are joints that allow you to turn your head left and right and up and down. Just like a knuckle in your hand, they can become arthritic, painful, and enlarge over time. Patients will complain of pain that stays primarily in the neck but may also radiate up towards the base of the skull and out to the shoulder blades.  This is the direct result of the joint space narrowing and bone contacting bone resulting in inflammation.

Pain from diseased facets can be severe. Thankfully, we have treatments at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine in Colorado Springs that can help. Look under the services section and learn about medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablation. Medial Branch blocks diagnose the facets as the cause, and radiofreqeuncy ablation “ablates” the pain fibers going to those painful joints.  In select cases, our pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine can also perform steroid, PRP, or stem cell injections into these joints to help with inflammation and pain.

Radiculopathy is a term used to describe a pinched nerve as it exits the spine. The nerves pass through an opening called the neural foramen. Patients may have a bulging or collapsing disc, an enlarged facet joint, or both which can narrow this opening. Bone spurs can also form, all of which can put pressure on the nerve. The patients we see at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine in Colorado Springs typically complain of neck pain and spasm, as well as pain that radiates down the arm into the hand.  This pain is described as electrical or a “shock” down the arm, and can feel like it’s burning and numb. Severe cases can cause weakness as well.

Radiculopathy can be diagnosed by history, physical exam, and imaging at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine. EMG and nerve conduction studies may also be performed to provide objective information of potential nerve damage however this study is not very sensitive for this condition. Minimally invasive treatments such as epidural steroid injections can be very effective and provide longer-term relief when used with other treatments like medications and PT. Sometimes the condition is too severe and requires surgical correction.

Patients will ask our pain management physicians “why not just have surgery?”.  At Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine, we see two major reasons:  adjacent level disease and postoperative fibrosis of the nerve roots.  Our surgeons are very good, however, even if your surgery is performed perfectly, there can be less than desirable outcomes.  There is a time and place for surgery, however it seldom is required early in the disease process.

When you fuse a segment of the spine, that previously mobile segment is now rigid and results in altered normal forces above and below the fusion. Even with a perfect surgery, these forces accelerate the degenerative process across those areas, leading to earlier breakdown. This is adjacent level disease. If you’re 80 years old this is not as concerning as if you’re 40 years old. The 40 year old has many years left and will likely need a revision along the way. You may ultimately require surgery, just be aware of this phenomenon.

The next is postoperative fibrosis. A perfect surgery can still result in scar tissue at the surgical site and encasing the nerve root in scar. This can tether the root in place, and with movement results in repetitive pulling on the nerve instead of gliding like it normally does. Again, you may require surgery, and have a perfect surgery performed, but still lay scar tissue that causes pain.

For these two reasons the pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine believe a strong effort at conservative and interventional therapy is worth trying before surgical correction is warranted. Call our Colorado Springs office to schedule a consultation and learn more about treating radiculopathy.

Our pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine often work with patients suffering from degenerative disk disease, but what is it and what are the best treatments? Degenerative disc disease is a condition of the spine that is the result of the intervertebral disc drying up, becoming thinner and perhaps “bulging.”  This is another type of arthritis of the spine (much like facet disease). This condition can affect nerve roots and cause a radiculopathy, as well as cause neck pain that is poorly defined and may radiate to the head or shoulders. Keep on reading to learn more about the cause and treatments for degenerative disc disease. It could be time to consider steroid injections at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine’s Colorado Springs location.

Discs in the spine serve as both shock absorbers and spacers that lie between the bones of the spine. They have a fibrous outer ring called the annulus and a jelly middle called the nucleosus pulposis. The outer ring is constructed like a tire with alternating criss-crossing fibers. Over time these radials can snap, and the disc begins to bulge.

The outer portion of the disc has pain fibers, while the inside does not. As the disc degenerates it starts to expose the outer pain fibers to the inner jelly middle, which is full of inflammatory mediators. Once that occurs, the disc itself can become painful and is now known as discogenic pain. This can be treated with epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, core strengthening, and back bracing. Surgery has been performed for discogenic pain but the results have been less than optimal.  In addition, approximately 70% of herniated discs will resolve on their own in one years time.  If there is a significant and severe strength deficit or bowel and bladder issues, this may be an indication to proceed straight to surgery.

When you fuse a segment of the spine, that previously mobile segment is now rigid and results in altered normal forces above and below the fusion. Even with a perfect surgery, these forces accelerate the degenerative process across those areas leading to earlier breakdown. This is adjacent level disease. If you’re 80 years old this is not as concerning as if you’re 40 years old. The 40 year old has many years left and will likely need a revision along the way. You may need surgery, just be aware of this phenomenon.

A perfect surgery can still result in a bed of scar at the surgical site and encasing the nerve root in scar. This can tether the root in place, and with movement results in repetitive pulling on the nerve instead of sliding like it normally does. Again, you may need surgery, and have a perfect surgery performed, but still lay scar.

For these two reasons the pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine believe a strong effort at conservative and interventional therapy is worth trying to help alleviate symptoms.

There is no specific cause of arthritis rather than genetics, age, and “wear and tear.”  This is typically treated with NSAIDS, PT, and steroid injections.  If there is an underlying disease process like rheumatism or ankylosing spondylitis, treatments targeted at the underlying cause is warranted while we treat the effects of the condition. Consult with one of our pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine in Colorado Springs, and see if steroid injections are the right treatment for you.

Our pain management physicians at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine often see patients dealing with trigger points. A trigger point is a localized area of muscle damage that remains in spasm and causes localized pain, as well as referred pain. This condition can be diagnosed with patient history and physical exam at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine in Colorado Springs.

How are trigger points identified? Our pain management physicians can often feel a nodule in the body of the muscle and identify it on ultrasound, as well. This condition can be treated with a simple injection at Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine, as well as deep tissue massage. Some patients find immediate and long lasting relief, while others have repeated episodes over time. This usually indicates a deeper problem that is causing the repeated cycle of spasm and pain.

If you’re wondering if your muscle pain is caused by trigger points, call the Colorado Springs office for Spinal Diagnostics & Regenerative Medicine to schedule a consultation with one of our pain management physicians.

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