Left Side Neck Pain TreatmentTreatment for left-sided neck pain hinges on the correct diagnosis as applying pain relief to a condition with a simple addressable cause, for example, is unlikely to be of much help in the long term. Conversely, where chronic pain exists due to increasing cervical spinal stenosis and nerve compression, it is inadvisable to prolong the wait for proper intervention by trying massage and stress relief, acupuncture, new shoes, or a new backpack. In cases where spinal alignment is suspected to be the problem then physical therapy can be of help, as can the Alexander Technique to restore balance to the spine and posture. Neck stretching and strengthening exercises may be helpful but should be carried out under the guidance of a trained professional as some conditions, such as disc herniation, may be worsened by such activities. Problems connected to the work environment may require the services of a trained ergonomic assessor to ensure good postural habits can be adopted and inappropriate furniture can be replaced with desks, chairs, monitors, and so on, that are suited to the patient suffering neck pain. Chiropractic or osteopathic therapy may also be helpful for assessing and remedying alignment problems in the spine and connecting them to everyday habits or activities.
Left Side Neck Pain from TMJ
Temporomandibular joint syndrome will often be first diagnosed or suspected by a dentist rather than a patients general practitioner and some of the symptoms can be directly addressed by the dentist. A bite-plate may be created for the patient to prevent tooth-grinding or clenching, and physical therapy exercises for the jaw may be recommended which could help to relieve left-sided neck pain and jaw pain. Where a neurological deficit is suspected of causing dysfunction in the jaw and neck the dentist may make a referral to another practitioner to investigate the possibility of a stroke having occurred or a lesion developing in a condition such as multiple sclerosis. Treatments for these conditions would then address the underlying problems rather than just the left-sided neck pain in a palliative fashion.
Treating TOS and Left Side Neck Pain
Thoracic outlet syndrome may be suspected in a small number of patients with left-sided neck pain, particularly where persistent colds and sinus infections have occurred and where patients suffer increased pain, and poor circulation in the arm upon raising it above shoulder level. Brachial plexus injury may also be a cause of left-sided neck and shoulder pain and those who play football or other contact sport may have suffered a stinger or burner type injury that has led to either acute or chronic pain in the neck. Reducing inflammation using ice initially and possibly medications such as NSAIDs or natural anti-inflammatories such as fish oil can help relieve left-sided neck pain; heat is usually contraindicated for acute muscular injuries of this kind. Physical therapy is often advised for thoracic outlet syndrome and brachial plexus injury and can effectively relieve symptoms. Applying ice to the area may help relieve any inflammation contributing to the condition, but the application of heat is likely to exacerbate it for most patients and is usually to be avoided. In some cases surgery may be necessary to remove tissue compressing the area, which may involve the excision of the cervical rib if present and problematic.
Surgery for Left Side Neck Pain
Surgery on the neck, such as a foraminotomy, laminectomy, or spinal fusion may be required if the left-sided neck pain persists for six months or more, is resistant to conservative treatments, or coexists with other signs of acute nerve compression that could lead to permanent neurological deficit. Degenerative conditions such as cervical spinal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis can cause pain in the left side of the neck and may require decompressive back surgery and spinal fusion to restore spinal alignment and curvature and remove the material causing a pinched nerve in the neck.
Treating Left Side Neck Pain with Botox
Botox injections for neck pain can also be helpful for some patients with torticollis and left-sided neck pain. These injections work by blocking the muscles in the neck from contracting, thereby relaxing the neck musculature and relieving the pain associated with tension and cramps in the neck. Care has to be taken however to ensure that the neck does not become hypermobile as this can cause escalating problems in the future by increasing the risk of both acute and chronic neck injury. For some patients botox injections are the only effective treatment for left-sided neck pain and allow them to avoid surgery.References
Berolo, S., Wells, R.P., Amick, B.C. 3rd, (2010), Musculoskeletal symptoms among mobile hand-held device users and their relationship to device use: A preliminary study in a Canadian university population, Appl Ergon, 2010 Sep 10th.
Nicholls, A.W., (2009), Diagnosis and management of thoracic outlet syndrome, Curr Sports Med Rep, Vol.8, No.5, pp.240-9.
Last Updated: 04/11/2011