Pain anywhere along the spine can be difficult not only on a physical level but also mentally. The word that comes to mind may be “exhausting.” We couldn’t agree more. As an orthopedic specialty practice, we see the consequences of back and neck pain on a daily basis. It is understandable that, even when pain is an ongoing problem, one of the primary questions that may arise is “what should I do about this pain?” There is often another question behind this one, and that is “am I going to need surgery?” We’d like to do our best to answer this.
The Origin of Pain
A bulging disc can incite chronic head pain. Nerve impingement from the bulging disc can also cause pain in the immediate area of the cervical spine, which then radiates down the arm and into the hand. These are not inconsequential. In many instances, pain and weakness stand in the way of daily activities, productivity, and quality of life. The misconception that surgery is the only treatment option for a bulging disc in the neck could only make matters worse.
Treat Early, Treat Conservatively
There are good reasons not to ignore signs that you may have a bulging cervical disc. In many cases, conservative treatments may be employed to help manage spinal health and inhibit the worsening of the damaged disc. The focus of non-surgical treatments is to bring the damaged disc back into alignment to reduce pain. Surgery is typically discussed as a treatment option when conservative therapies do not obtain the desired outcome. Common therapies that may be used include:
- Pain medication, either over the counter or prescription, may be advised to lessen inflammation and promote greater comfort.
- Deep tissue massages can target muscles that tense in response to the bulging disc.
- Rest is one of the first ways to encourage healing. Inactivity is not a substitute for appropriate treatment; the spine needs to move within its healthy range of motion to function fully.
- Physical therapy exercise can build strength in the muscles that support the cervical spine.
- Cortisone epidural injections may be stronger and longer lasting than medication for pain and inflammation control.
Chronic neck pain is not likely to get better on its own. Get the help you need to understand exactly what is causing neck pain and what you can do about it. For a thorough consultation and evaluation of neck pain, call NYC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Todd Albert.