Back and joint pain is a fact of life for millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain — and 15 percent name neck pain as the greatest source of discomfort.
The effects of pain are numerous. Close to 80 percent of those with chronic pain say they feel depressed; more than half feel they have no control over their pain; and close to a quarter report that pain disrupts their sleep on a regular basis. Chronic pain sufferers often miss work, are challenged by daily living tasks, and say that their overall enjoyment and quality of life is gravely affected.
When Kathy McCue experienced excruciating neck pain in 2016, she turned to her care team at Sharp.
“Kathy had a pinched nerve in her neck caused by a disc herniation that led to shooting pain down her arm, which was debilitating,” says Dr. Vikram Udani, a neurological surgeon affiliated with Sharp HealthCare. “She tried all sorts of nonsurgical treatments and everything failed, so we decided to go ahead and remove the entire disc.”
Dr. Udani replaced McCue’s herniated disc with an artificial disc, a device that preserves the normal motion of the spine. When she awoke from the surgery, the pain in her arm was completely gone.
According to Dr. Udani, most neck pain will not require surgery. Pain caused by muscle tension or strain can usually be prevented or resolved by practicing good posture, avoiding continuously looking down at phones or other devices, and performing daily neck stretching and strengthening exercises for up to 10 minutes. More severe cases may need additional treatment.
“Talk with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of spinal cord compression or nerve impingement,” Dr. Udani says. “These include numbness or weakness of the hands, difficulty walking or shooting pain into the arms.”
There are a variety of nonsurgical ways moderate neck pain can be treated. These include physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, anti-inflammatory medications and epidural steroid injections, all of which can provide relief from chronic pain.
“When the correct treatment is done to the right patient, like Kathy, patients can enjoy full relief,” Dr. Udani says. “I’m confident that she is going to be able to continue to enjoy her normal activities and to be pain-free.”
Watch the video above to see more of Kathy’s story.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Vikram Udani about treatments for chronic neck pain for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.