Chronic Neck Pain Causes, Treatments and Second Opinions
How did prescription medication compare with other nonoperative therapies?
Roughly half (n=294) of the 606 people who participated in the Chronic Back Pain in America 2015 survey indicated they have chronic neck pain. In this article, SpineUniverse presents an overview of their symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments—in particular, nonoperative therapies and medications patients self-report as effective and/or ineffective.
Table 1 (below) summarizes the symptoms experienced by patients who participated in the survey. If you have chronic neck pain, you understand that pain is not the only symptom. These results support that fact.
Table 2 (below) reports on where patients reported their chronic back pain and accompanying symptoms to be.
Effects of Chronic Neck Pain
The survey participants indicated chronic neck pain made many activities unenjoyable and/or difficult. The list included: working, carrying a purse or briefcase, housekeeping, concentrating, reaching for things, playing sports, and exercising.
- Disrupted/poor sleep: 80% (n=236)
- Less sexual enjoyment: 35% (n=103)
Table 3 (below) summarizes the variety of diagnoses self-reported. Of course, it is important to understand that some patients may have received more than one diagnosis—or cause of their chronic neck pain, since some spinal disorders can cause a different problem(s). For example, a cervical herniated disc may cause a radiculopathy and/or myelopathy.
Table 4 (below) reflects the feedback from 284 participants. Here they reported on the types of nonsurgical treatments used and which ones they found to be ineffective.
Who prescribed pain medications?
Primary care physicians and pain management specialists were equally split at 32% (n=92) each, and were the leading prescribers
Surgeon Recommended Surgery to Treat Neck Pain
Approximately 41% (n=116) reported “ever having neck surgery,” while 39% (n=112) indicated their doctor recommended surgery to treat chronic neck pain. About 20% (n=22) indicated they underwent another neck surgery to revise the first procedure.
Of the 112 survey participants, 55% (n=61) indicated a neurosurgeon recommended surgery, whereas 29% (n=32) selected orthopaedic spine surgeon, and 10% (n=11) chose orthopaedic surgeon. A smaller number (6%, n=7) chose pain management specialist.
Table 5 (below) summarizes the types of cervical spine surgery surgeons recommended.
*A decompression procedure may include discectomy, microdiscectomy, corpectomy, foramintomy, laminectomy, laminoplasty, and/or laminoforaminotomy.
Table 6 (below) shows, out of 112 responders, the number of patients who decided to obtain a second surgical opinion.
Table 7 (below) highlights the type of doctor chosen for a second opinion and if that surgeon recommended the same surgery as the first surgeon.
- 87% (n=31) of survey respondents indicated the second surgeon recommended the same surgery as the first surgeon.
Returning to the 112 survey respondents seeking a surgeon’s opinion, 60% (n=67) had their surgery performed by the first surgeon, 6% (n=7) by the second opinion surgeon, and 34% (n=38) decided against surgery.
To learn about Dr. Eidelson’s practice, click here.