If you suffer from neck pain, it can be debilitating to the point where it changes your life. Here is a list of typical ways neck pain is fixed by traditional medicine, plus one new treatment method you may not have heard of… but you should.
Conventional Treatments for Neck Pain
Heat and cold therapy
Applying heat or cold to relieve pain has been a go-to for thousands of years. Usually, cold is used when swelling is involved, whereas heat is more soothing for aches and stiffness. This method is generally more palliative than curative and doesn’t produce long-lasting results for chronic neck pain.
Stretching and gentle exercise
If neck pain is caused by poor posture, sleeping in a cramped position, or muscle tension caused by stress, stretching and gentle exercise can be helpful. The best way to make sure you don’t make your neck pain worse is to work with a physical therapist in developing a regimen for your specific concerns.
Many different types of pain, including neck pain, are caused by incorrect posture or movement paths during work and other repetitive day-to-day activities. Manual laborers, drivers, and deskbound computer workers are the most prone to this, as are people who spend hours each day hunched over their computers. Therefore, finding better chair or car seat positioning and learning to lift items properly can help neck pain caused by poor ergonomic care.
Massage therapy that relaxes muscles and releases endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals) can help if neck pain is caused by muscle tension or improper posture. It can also soothe pain that comes from other muscles compensating for neck pain and reduced mobility. However, it’s not typically a long-term solution and more of a temporary fix.
It used to be that acupuncture was thought of as a “fringe” treatment, but now this form of ancient Chinese therapy is frequently seen as a mainstream component of complementary medicine at Western hospitals and clinics. Acupuncture relieves pain, but you usually have to have repeat treatments at regular intervals for it to be a lasting solution.
Chiropractic uses various methods, such as spinal adjustments and electric stimulation, to treat conditions caused by misalignment of the spine. In some cases, it can relieve neck pain, but if your pain is caused by something you do every day, it’s likely to return and require continued visits to the chiropractor.
Changing your mattress, pillow, and sleep position
If your mattress and pillow are too hard, soft, saggy, tall, or thin, your neck and spine can endure hours of poor positioning every night, resulting in neck pain. If this is the sole cause of your pain, making changes can definitely have favorable results. You want to find a sleep surface that is supportive but not too firm and a pillow that keeps your neck aligned with your spine no matter how you sleep.
Have you ever worn a neck collar for your pain? While a version of this device can offer protection of your cervical spine after an accident, wearing one around as you go through your day does very little but offers psychological support and biofeedback. If you move your neck too much in one direction or another, the collar reminds you to limit your movement. This is most effective after an acute injury, not for long-term neck pain.
It is possible to have neck pain caused by stress alone. Many people respond to stressful events by hunching their shoulders and tensing their muscles. So, eliminating stress can stop this reaction and eventually eliminate pain. It takes time and mindfulness to accomplish this, and sometimes major life changes are necessary, such as giving up an anxiety-provoking job or saying no to things that overwhelm you.
Oral and topical medications
Medications you swallow or rub on your neck can help with pain, but you have to use them at prescribed times every day. These solutions range from natural ointments to over-the-counter drugs to prescription medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids. There are many downsides to using medications to control neck pain, including:
- Formulary restrictions that dictate what prescriptions your insurance will cover
- Building tolerance so a higher dose is needed
- Physical and psychological dependence
- Serious withdrawal symptoms
- Side effects (aka adverse events) like high blood pressure that require other medications or make it difficult to work or sleep
- Interactions with other drugs
Cortisone injections are often used in various joints of the body to provide relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness. They often work but only for about 30 to 90 days. Then the process has to be repeated, which is painful and not necessarily covered by insurance. It’s not advisable to keep repeating cortisone injections long-term, so they are considered a temporary measure to help people manage until they complete physical therapy or undergo surgery.
Once other options have been exhausted, your physician may suggest surgery to treat your neck pain. This is usually the case if your pain is caused by a bulging disc, pinched nerve, or degenerative disc disease, where the cushioning between vertebrae of the cervical spine has diminished, a common result of aging. Like medications, there are many negatives associated with surgery:
- High cost and unexpected expenses not covered by insurancev
- Downtime from work and family activities during recovery
- Complications of anesthesia and recovery, including fatality
- Nerve damage or other permanent unwanted consequences
- Failure to relieve the pain
If all the conventional ways to treat neck pain listed above sound like band-aid approaches, you are on the right track. While some may be necessary to make life tolerable in the short term, they don’t produce lasting pain relief because most of them don’t address the cause of the pain unless it’s related to sleep positioning, stress, or ergonomics.
Even surgery can be a temporary solution because degenerative joint disease keeps attacking the spine. Many surgery patients wind up having at least one other operation a few years down the road. What you need is a low-risk, long-lasting treatment that gets at the source of your neck pain.
Regenerative Medicine: An Alternative You May Not Know About
What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine is a safer, longer-lasting alternative to the risky methods listed above. It harnesses your body’s inherent healing mechanism to actually restructure parts of the body, which results in pain relief and improved range of motion. Rather than masking neck pain, it attacks the root of your pain.
This exciting new treatment works by injecting exosomes in the area of the body that’s experiencing pain or immobility – in this case, the neck. What are exosomes? They’re similar to stem cells, but they are a more ethical option derived from umbilical cords that we like to use at Regener Wave Clinic. They signal the body to start healing by regenerating tissue, boosting immunity, and decreasing pain.
The beauty of regenerative medicine with exosomes is that your healing cells keep reproducing. You don’t have to do anything else because the body takes over making new cells, and the healing continues for many months or even years.
What are the benefits of regenerative medicine over conventional treatments?
As we just stated, regenerative medicine is longer-lasting and safer than many common neck pain fixes, especially prescription drugs and surgery. It has many other advantages, including:
- You can use it in conjunction with other common sense lifestyle changes, like improving your seated posture at work or reducing stress.
- Even though it’s not typically covered by insurance yet, regenerative medicine can be less costly than other treatments, when you add up copayments, deductibles, and items your insurance refuses to pay.
- You can use it on many parts of the body, and it’s great for treating sports injuries to joints and certain types of soft tissue.
- Regenerative medicine has promise for applications in many areas of medicine, including the treatment of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
- It dovetails well with functional medicine, which uses a holistic approach to improve your joint health, gut function, hormones, and nutrition together.
Are you a good candidate for regenerative medicine?
Your doctor may not be familiar with regenerative medicine, but we offer an initial consultation at RegenerWave Clinic to see if it’s the right treatment for your neck pain. We go over your medical history and use a physical exam paired with medical imaging to get a complete picture of what’s causing your pain.
You don’t have to deal with neck pain or suffer potentially dangerous treatments when there are alternatives available today. To see if regenerative medicine is a good choice for you, call RegenerWave Clinic at 954-510-3150, or use our online form to schedule your first appointment. It just might be the first step on your journey to wellness.