cervical spine

Cervicalgia (neck pain)

What is it ?

Cervicalgia is a general term referring to pain in the cervical spine. Most of the time, it is muscle fatigue pain. Like nonspecific low back pain (common low back pain), it is most often linked to natural aging (natural wear) of the discs of the cervical spine, and which causes a change in the cervical spine mechanics . The muscles have to work more to compensate, which sometimes produces their fatigue and the feeling of pain.

Clinical presentation

Patients typically complain of neck pain in prolonged positions (sitting in front of a computer for example) or during strenuous efforts. More rarely, there is pain at night. Common neck pain is NOT associated to upper limb pain (sometimes the shoulders, however). Most often, cervicalgia evolves irregularly: periods of bearable pain alternate with phases of acute pain, which often appear without triggering event.

When to consult a specialist?

Common neck pain without neurological pain, even in acute phases, can be taken care of by your general practitioner. The specialist will only be consulted when the pain lasts more than 6 weeks without improvement.

Non surgical treatment

Treatment of neck pain is mostly nonsurgical. Medication, physiotherapy, osteopathy and other non-surgical approaches are available. Your GP can prescribe them.

Surgical treatment

Common neck pain (without neurological involvement by definition) is RARELY treated surgically. Surgery will be discussed when the pain is disabling and deeply affects the quality of social and professional life. The aim of surgery will be to improve the mechanics by replacing the intervertebral disc, usually with a cage or a disc prosthesis, according to the same technique used for cervical disc herniations (see here).