Phoenix Arm and Neck Pain Treatment Options
Despite all the advances medical science has made in recent years with regards to understanding the causes of pain and trauma, we still struggle at times to fully understand what’s happening when someone suffers from ongoing neck and arm pain. This is especially so if there was no real trauma inflicted on those parts of the body that a person can remember. Too many people simply start experiencing this pain and do not know why, and far too many people in this position decide to just live with it. If you’re one of these people or someone you love is enduring this type of daily life, you need to seek treatment from neck and spine specialists in Phoenix as soon as possible. The reason? There are solutions out there!
You may be wondering what type of doctor treats neck pain, and the answer is that there can be more than one depending on the type of problem that exists with a patient. At Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center, we focus on the spine and all that can happen when a problem arises with the proverbial “control panel” of the central nervous system. Many people who seek a neck and arm pain specialist do so because of a problem with their spinal cord.
Below you’re going to find a breakdown of neck and arm pain in hopes that if you’re suffering in this regard, you’ll take the simple step necessary to obtain the neck pain treatment in Phoenix that you may need. That step is to contact us to schedule an initial consultation.
Diagnosing Neck and Arm Pain
One of the most common symptoms presenting to our orthopedic spine surgeons at DSSC is neck and arm pain. Some causes for these symptoms are discussed below:
There are several common causes of symptoms occurring in the neck and arm at the same time. These symptoms may vary from pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, which might occur in any combination. When considering neck pain with arm symptoms occurring at the same time, it is useful to consider three categories of potential causes:
Radicular Pain Referral
(Cervical Radiculopathy): Neck pain with radicular pain in the shoulder, arm and/or hand is often the result of compression of a spinal nerve in the neck. Spinal nerves leave the cervical spine (neck) to enter the arm as nerves. Thus, when a nerve is compressed in the neck, it can cause radiating pain into various regions of the shoulder and/or arm. The pattern and distribution of these symptoms can often be deciphered and isolated to a particular nerve in the neck by physical examination by a trained specialist.
Vertebrogenic Pain Referral
This type of pain referral (and associated symptom pattern) is a little vaguer than the radicular type. Vertebrogenic symptoms are caused by compromise of structures of the spine such as the disc, joints and bony structures of the spine. This type of pain refers into the upper back, shoulders and arm in a similar way that a heart attack refers into a limb. This type of symptom pattern can sometimes closely resemble radicular pain but can be differentiated by a good physical examination, correlation with imaging (e.g. MRI and X-ray) and sometimes by other tests like electrodiagnostic testing (EMG/NCV).
This type of pain is often harder to diagnose. Soft Tissue pain syndromes, while quite common, are underappreciated by conventional medicine. This type of pain is caused by tiny clusters of adhesions (scar tissue) that accumulate in and around the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) of the spine and adjacent structures. This causes pain and restriction with movement of the neck and/or arm. A particular type of tissue called fascia is often to blame. While often debilitating, this pain is often easier to treat and rarely if ever requires surgery.
Common Cause of Neck and Arm Pain
One of the common causes of severe, radiating, neck and arm pain is a herniated, cervical disc. In cases where the patient is suffering from a herniated disc, they will often report a fairly long history of mild-moderate neck pain that suddenly enters the arm (as the disc herniates and makes contact with one or more nerves in the neck.) This condition is discussed in this video:
When to See a Specialist: Treatment for Neck, Shoulder and Arm Pain
By the descriptions above, it is easy to see that neck and arm pain is not a clear-cut entity. The first step in treating neck and arm pain is to identify what is causing the symptoms. This can be achieved by evaluation by a trained orthopedic spine specialist. This evaluation will involve a thorough history, which will try to identify patterns that might provide clues as to the source of the neck, shoulder or arm pain. This will be followed by a physical examination, which will aim to identify patterns of sensory loss, weakness or reflex changes that might implicate a particular nerve or group of nerves in the neck. A spine specialist will also perform special orthopedic tests in an effort to reproduce or provoke your symptoms by special maneuvers – this will give further evidence as to the source of your pain. This examination may be enhanced by an evaluation of X-rays, MRIs or other tests like nerve tests.
Once this information is studied by your spine surgeon, he will recommend a best course of action to resolve your neck and shoulder pain. This might involve something as conservative as pain medication, physical therapy or chiropractic to more advanced options such as spinal injections. The decision to recommend spine surgery will be reserved for cases where the cause of the pain represents a danger to the patient or if the condition is unlikely to respond to conservative options.
Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center (Mesa, AZ) offers quality orthopedic spine care and spine surgery for patients living in the metro Phoenix area, including areas such as Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Goodyear, and Casa Grande.
Please contact our office as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation so that we can start to get to the bottom of what’s happening with you.