Cracking Pain in Neck and Shoulder

Patient

Q: For the last 4 days I have been having pain in my neck and left shoulder, and my neck feels like it`s cracking when I turn my head

Doctor

A:   One of the causes of cervical pain is the degenerative condition of the cervical spine that affects the vertebral bodies and intervertebral disks of the neck, for example, disk herniation and spur formation (bone growth),as well as the contents of the spinal canal (nerve roots and/or spinal cord), and also the facet joints and ligaments.
Conservative treatment of cervical pain due to degenerative changes includes immobilization of the cervical spine that limits the motion of the neck, then reducing nerve irritation. Soft cervical collars are recommended for daytime use only, but they are unable to appreciably limit the motion of the cervical spine. Molded cervical pillows can better align the spine during sleep and provide symptomatic relief for some patients. Mechanical traction, manual therapy, local heat and exercises of the cervical spine are also used. The surgical treatment may be considered if the patient has progressive neurological symptoms (numbness, tingling loss of muscular strength), imaging studies show remarkable compression of nerves, and intractable pain. The goals of surgery are to relieve pain and decompression of nerves, as well as, in select cases, to achieve stabilization.

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