Head & Neck Pain Management in Mesa, AZ
As many patients in the East Valley know, head and neck pain can be completely debilitating, keeping you away from school, work, friends, and family. The issues of chronic head and neck pain are reaching an epidemic level in the U.S. According to the respondents of a National Institute of Health Statistics survey, 15 percent of Americans have severe headaches or migraines and 15 percent have neck pain.
At the Pain Management Center at Mountain Vista Medical Center, pain management specialists and other physicians work to treat patients’ acute and chronic head and heck pains. You can learn more about a few of the most frequently treated head and neck conditions on this page. To learn more about some of the treatment options that are mentioned below, visit our Pain Treatment Options page.
Head & Neck Pain Treated at Mountain Vista
A whiplash headache is a common outcome in many car accidents. While some people only experience mild whiplash, recovering shortly thereafter, about 80 percent of all patients who experience whiplash develop a chronic headache. You may hear your pain management specialist refer to this type of headache as a “cervicogenic headache,” which means that it’s related to the neck.
Cervicogenic headaches aren’t necessarily caused by whiplash. Any injury or inflammation of the upper cervical joints (those in the neck) can cause this type of chronic headache. A common method for diagnosing whiplash headache is to inject an anesthetic into the nerves or joints in the neck. If pain subsides, then the physician may confirm a diagnosis of whiplash headache.
Treatment options for this chronic pain can vary from patient to patient. Some treatment options your physician may discuss with you include radiofrequency neurotomy, cervical facet joint injection, steroid injection, and medial branch block. (Remember, you can learn more about these – and other – treatment options on our Pain Treatment Options page.)
Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)
Cervical radiculopathy is a term physicians use to describe any kind of pain caused by an irritated nerve in the neck. Like lumbar radiculopathy in the lower back, pain may be caused by a slipped disc, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease. (Rare causes include tumors, lymph node enlargement, and fracture.)
Patients with cervical radiculopathy typically experience pain, weakness, or numbness in the areas that the irritated nerve carries signals from. Because nerves in the cervical region of the spine reach all the way down the arms, hands, and fingers, any of these areas can be affected. The pain may be sharp and burning or dull, depending on the nerve irritation.
Treatment options for cervical radiculopathy may include the use of an orthotic neck appliance, opioid medications and other pain relievers, as well as epidural steroid injection. If the pain is caused by a herniated disc or cervical foraminal stenosis (narrowing of the spine in the neck region), then additional treatment options may be available.
Though migraine headaches affect people in different ways, they all share at least one thing in common: intense, concentrated pain in the head. Some patients experience vomiting, nausea, and light/sound sensitivity along with the vascular headache. Experiencing sensory warning symptoms (known as “auras”) is also fairly common in the minutes leading up to a migraine.
While there is no cure for migraine headaches, many patients find they are able to manage the chronic pain through drugs and lifestyle changes. The pain management specialists at Mountain Vista Medical Center have worked with countless patients who suffer from intense migraine headaches in the East Valley, helping them find the relief they need to enjoy a normal life again –without the fear of a migraine interruption.
A pain management specialist at Mountain Vista Medical Center may treat your migraine headaches with pain relievers and other medications. There are two general categories when it comes to migraine medications: pain-relieving meds and preventive meds.
- Pain-relief meds include aspirin and NSAIDs like ibuprofen, as well as acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine combination pills. More intense pain-relief medications include triptans, ergots, opioids, glucocorticoids, and anti-nausea drugs.
- Preventive medications may be given to patients who have frequent and/or severe migraine headaches. They are usually taken whenever known triggers are likely to occur. These may include cardiovascular drugs, such as beta blockers, anti-seizure drugs, anti-depressants, Botox, and pain-relievers.
Cervical spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs in the neck when nerves in the spinal column become pinched or irritated. (This condition may also occur in the back.) Spinal stenosis in the neck is usually caused by degeneration of the intervertebral discs, a natural occurrence that may be caused by normal wear and tear. As further degeneration occurs, bone spurs may develop, pressing in on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Spinal stenosis (of the neck) can cause tingling or pain in the arms, hands, and fingers. Some patients may experience numbness or weakness of the extremities. Spinal stenosis may be diagnosed during a physical examination. Oftentimes diagnostic imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI, is used to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment for spinal stenosis may require surgery. Common surgical procedures for treating this condition include laminectomy (removal of one or more vertebrae) or spinal fusion (vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty). Some patients may experience symptomatic relief through epidural steroid injections.
The occipital nerves are the two nerves responsible for sensation in the back of the head and in the scalp. When these nerves become irritated, the result can be a piercing pain in the upper neck, on the back of the head, or behind the ears. Because each nerve supports sensation on just one side of the head, symptoms of occipital neuralgia typically occur on only one side of the head. In addition to causing an electric-like pain, occipital neuralgia may cause headaches in some patients.
In many cases, occipital neuralgia is caused by a pinched nerve root in the neck or some other form of trauma. Pinched nerve roots are usually the result of some other health issue, such as osteoarthritis in the upper cervical spine, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or other chronic health conditions, such as gout or diabetes.
At Mountain Vista Medical Center, pain management specialists may focus on treating the symptoms of occipital neuralgia, while also diagnosing and treating the underlying health problem. Treatment options may include pain-relief medications, as well as more invasive therapies such as nerve blocks, steroid injections, neurostimulation, and radiofrequency ablation.
Other Neck Pain
This page covers just a few of the many head and neck pains treated at the Pain Management Center at Mountain Vista Medical Center. It is often the case that patients’ symptoms don’t perfectly match with the symptoms described online in patient literature. If you’re experiencing acute or chronic neck pain or headaches in the East Valley area, consider scheduling an appointment with a pain management specialist.
At Mountain Vista Medical Center, patients have the unique opportunity to meet with specialists from diverse backgrounds, including osteopathic practitioners, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, interventional radiologists, and anesthesiologists. This multi-disciplinary approach allows the medical staff to treat your symptoms with a unique treatment plan, custom-tailored to meet your needs.
Learn more about your surgical options for neck pain.
Begin Treatment for Your Head or Neck Pain
Wondering what the specialists at the Pain Management Center at Mountain Vista Medical Center can do for your head or neck pain? Call 1-877-924-WELLfor more information. Not sure if your pain is “chronic pain” or not? Take our two-minute self-assessment. Pain management is possible, but it’s up to you to start the process.