Medications – Commonly prescribed drugs for neck pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are used to decrease pain and inflammation. For patients who experience muscle spasms, a muscle relaxant may help, such as Baclofen and Robaxin. For severe pain, analgesics are prescribed, and short-term steroids (Medrol dose pack) can reduce nerve inflammation.
Trigger point injections (TPIs) – These injections are used to deactivate trigger points of the upper back and neck region. The doctor injects these contracted muscle groups with a numbing agent (lidocaine). Based on clinical studies, patients with neck pain experienced a 100% success rate with TPIs.
Facet joint injections (FJIs) – For this procedure, the doctor inserts small needles into the facet joints along the back of the cervical spine. Using x-ray guidance to assure correct needle placement, the doctor will instill a corticosteroid, with or without an anesthetic agent, into the joints. Based on controlled clinical studies, FJIs proved to have an 83% efficacy rate for patients with neck pain.
Medial Branch Block – This procedure is similar to facet joint injections, however the injection material is placed around the joints to block the tiny nerve endings and provide pain relief. On average, medial branch blocks offer 85% effectiveness for 3 months.
Radiofrequency Ablation – If a medial branch block is effective and then wears off, a radiofrequency ablation can be performed. The procedure is outpatient and great for neck pain relief. Over 12 to 18 months of consistent pain relief is achieved over 80% of the time!
Epidural Steroid Injections – for those patients who have arm pain in conjunction with neck pain, it may be due to a pinched nerve. This may be a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The epidural injection is typically very effective at pain relief, although it may take a series of procedures for optimal relief.
Physical therapy – For chronic neck pain, the pain specialist may recommend physical therapy sessions. The patient meets with the doctor 2-3 times each week to learn strengthening and flexibility exercises. Massage, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are used to provide pain relief.