Pain Management

Neck Pain

There are many sources of neck pain. Neck pain is sometimes referred to as cervicogenic pain.

Neck pain may present itself as:

  • A headache that starts at the base of the head or the top of the neck.
  • Neck pain that may or may not get worse with neck movement.
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders or upper back.
  • Pain in the neck that goes down to the arm and/or hand.

Neck and shoulder pain is often the result of muscular pain that may be related to posture or stress. Pain that starts in the neck and goes to your shoulders and upper back may come from the facet joints. This pain may get worse when you move your head from side to side or back and forth. There are many treatment options for the wide variety of causes of neck, shoulder and arm pain. If you have trouble with your balance, clumsiness or changes in your ability to control your bladder or bowel that may represent a serious condition in your spine that may require spine surgery.

Headaches may also be due to the upper bones in the neck. This type of headache is different from migraine headaches in that there are no flashing lights and neck movement may affect the pain. This headache may be reproduced by pressure to the top of the neck where it meets the head.

How Can We Help?

There are many options that the specialists at the Emory Pain Center offer for the treatment of neck, shoulder, arm and hand pain. The most important first step is diagnosis of the pain generator (where the pain is coming from). In addition to a thorough physical exam, we perform a full evaluation of your imaging (e.g., X-rays or MRI) and other testing to help us determine the precise origin of your pain. We use targeted diagnostic nerve blocks (e.g., selective nerve root blocks or medial branch injections) to identify and treat the pain at its source. If you are getting a diagnostic injection it is important to carefully record your results on the pain diary and bring that diary to your next office visit. Our specialists also work closely with physical therapists to maximize your relief and provide comprehensive treatment. Note that if you have significant weakness or difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels you should get evaluated for possible surgery.

What Are Non-surgical Ways to Treat Neck/Shoulder/Arm/Hand Pain?

  • Non-narcotic analgesic medications that calm sciatic pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Diagnostic cervical medial branch blocks
  • Cervical radiofrequency denervations
  • Selective nerve root injections
  • Epidural steroid injections