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Occipital Neuralgia – What is it?

occipital-neuralgia head and neck pain nerve blockHead and neck pain could be caused by occipital neuralgia, a non-fatal condition that involves nerve irritation or injury from a variety of causes. The prefix ‘neuro’ means nerve and ‘algia’ means pain, while ‘occipital’ describes a region of the head running from the spinal column in the neck up to the scalp at the back of the head.

There are numerous possible causes of this kind of spreading neck pain and headache resulting from injury or compression of the greater and lesser occipital nerves. Read more

TMJ, Ear and Neck Pain

jaw, ear and neck painNeck pain may occur in isolation, but often neck pain, ear pain and jaw pain co-exist, leading to pain when eating, speaking, moving the head, and even when lying down to sleep. Sometimes, this triad is a result of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), where the jaw joint and related bones, ligaments, and cartilage are typically swollen and painful, making it hard to open the jaw. Read more

Bone Spurs in the Neck – Where are they most common?

bone-spur-neck-cervical-mriThe most common sites of bone spur formation in the neck are levels C6-C7 as this is the segment of the spine where the intervertebral discs tends to degenerate faster with age. A combination of shocks to the discs and the general wear and tear of compression can cause the disc to collapse, leading to a loss of vertebral height and reduced mobility of that spinal segment.

When one area of the spine becomes less mobile, the areas nearby often compensate by becoming more mobile. In this case, the spinal segments C3-C5 show increased motion and the body then attempts to restore stability by remodelling bone at the outer edges of the vertebral body. Bone spurs typically indicate a loss of spinal stability, rather than simply arising out of nothing.

Causes of Bone Spurs in the Neck

Bone diseases also contribute to the development of osteophytes (bone spurs) though, as does smoking, poor nutrition, and genetic factors. In order to maintain strong bones the body needs sufficient amounts of calcium, but it also needs magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin D, and a range of other nutrients that work to create the collagen scaffold onto which these minerals are deposited in crystal form. Without adequate magnesium, for example, the bone crystals that are formed are poorly constructed and weak, leading to an increased likelihood of bones in the spine fracturing, compressing, and developing spurs.


Symptoms of Bone Spurs in the Neck

Bone spurs cause problems in the spine because they can impinge upon spinal nerves and nerve roots, as well as entering the disc space or even compressing the spinal cord itself. These bony growths may lead to symptoms such as paraesthesia, weakness, numbness, muscle wasting, and pain in the neck, back, down the arms, or even up into the jaw and head, depending on the location of the bone spurs and which nerves are pinched or section of spinal cord compressed.

Surgery for Bone Spurs in the Neck

To alleviate these symptoms, surgery is often necessary to remove bone spurs as this is a physical obstruction rather than one that can be managed with anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications. In addition to operating to remove the bone spurs in the neck, it is also important that the surgical team help a patient understand the potential factors contributing to the development of osteophytes, otherwise it may simply be a matter of time before the patient is back in for further surgery to remove more aberrant bone.

Pain in the Front of the Neck – Causes and When to Call for Help

Pain in the Front of the Neck phone when to call for helpThe majority of neck pain is caused by muscle strain and is typically resolved without medical intervention within a few days. However, pain in the front of the neck that persists, or which is severe and acute, can be a sign of a serious health issue that warrants medical attention. Read more

Diabetes Could Raise Your Risk of Head and Neck Cancer by 50%

diabetes and neck cancer riskDiabetes could increase your risk of head and neck cancer by 50% according to a newly published retrospective cohort study carried out in Taiwan. The research, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology looked at data from 89,089 patients with diabetes and found that compared to closely matched people without diabetes they were 47% more likely to develop head and neck cancer. Read more

Multiple Sclerosis and Cervical Spinal Stenosis – Does Neck Surgery Help?

cervical spinal stenosis mutliple sclerosis myelopathyDifferentiating multiple sclerosis and cervical spinal stenosis symptoms can be challenging and new research suggests that for patients with both conditions preoperative MRI results may not offer a clear indication of the likely success of spine surgery. Typically, people with cervical spinal stenosis can be given a pretty good idea of the benefits they could see after neck surgery, but evaluating patients with concurrent MS and cervical stenosis causing myelopathy appears to offer little indication of its usefulness. Read more

Drug-Free Remission of Rheumatoid Arthritis is Possible, New Study Says

abatacept orencia drug free remission in rheumatoid arthritis

If taken early enough, abatacept (Orencia) could help RA patients go into remission drug-free.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition for which patients typically need to take medications long-term, if not indefinitely. This joint disease causes symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, fever, and may be a cause of neck pain, back pain, and a loss of mobility and flexibility. A range of medications are available for managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but there is currently no cure. Many of these treatments involve suppressing the immune system as it is this that is erroneously attacking the body and causing symptoms. Read more

Testing for Severe Osteoarthritis… Before it Develops?

neck pain osteoarthritisNew research suggests that testing for three specific biomarkers in the blood could predict who will go on to develop severe osteoarthritis, a potential cause of neck pain. Osteoarthritis is a condition that tends to arise later in life after wear and tear on the joints but up until now there was no blood test to let patients know their possible risk of the disease, making preventative efforts hard to promote. Read more

Laminectomy and Fusion for Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

laminectomy for cervical spondylotic myelopathyCervical spondylotic myelopathy accounts for the majority of cases of spinal cord dysfunction in older adults. This common cause of neck pain results from degenerative changes in the cervical spine, including age-related damage to the joints, discs, ligaments, and connective tissue in the neck, that results in spinal cord compression. The treatment for this condition will depend on the extent of the degeneration and symptoms but typically involves laminectomy and spinal fusion. Read more

Why Does My Neck Hurt When I Open My Mouth?

jaw and neck pain when opening the mouthNeck pain upon opening the mouth can be a sign of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or, in layman’s terms, a dysfunction of the jawbone and surrounding structures. TMD describes a group of disorders, some of which are pretty common, affecting some 6-12% of adults. Women, and younger adults are more likely to experience TMDs but they can affect anyone throughout life. Read more