7 Treatments for Chronic or Long-Term Neck Pain

Most chronic or long-term neck pain and discomfort comes from wear and tear, injuries, and overuse — three things no one can avoid if they live long enough.

The pain and discomfort from neck problems vary widely. Common symptoms include: 

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness in the arm, hand, or shoulder
  • Numbness, prickling, and tingling in the forearm, hand, and fingers

Pain specialists typically recommend non-invasive conservative treatments to relieve chronic neck pain. Below is a list of some of the most common.

1. Steroid Injections 

Some of the below treatments take a while to relieve chronic neck pain. Steroid injections can provide relief within hours that can last for weeks or even months.

A simple outpatient procedure that takes a few minutes, a steroid injection can reduce or eliminate chronic neck pain long enough for you to start realizing benefits from physical therapy and other non-drug treatments.

2. Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapists can help you improve your daily ergonomic awareness at work, out and about, and around the home.

For example, poor posture sitting and standing posture can cause chronic neck pain. Practicing healthy moving and non-moving posture involves maintaining your spine’s three natural curves (neck, mid-back, and lower back). 

3. Physical Therapy

A certified physical therapist can develop a stretching and strengthening routine tailored to your body. Consistent stretching and strengthening can help your body heal faster and keep your neck and spine healthy.

Physical therapists may also recommend therapeutic devices, such as cervical or neck traction devices, to help relieve your neck pain. A neck traction device can ease neck pain related to nerve root irritation by gently stretching the neck.

4. Lifestyle/DIY Remedies

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines

OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen), and pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be effective pain management for chronic neck pain. 

Always consult with a doctor before using OTC medications and use them as directed.

R & R

Like a sore throat or a pulled hamstring, getting enough rest and sleep can help decrease chronic neck pain. 

Applying cold packs or compresses and warm compresses or heat pads to your neck can be comfortable and relaxing.

With chronic neck pain, which occurs because of damage to the neck’s bones, discs, and joints, this therapy likely won’t provide much, if any, pain relief. It may, however, provide some added comfort and relaxation that can help you rest. 

6. Prescription Medications

Muscle Relaxants 

If your chronic neck pain is making you lose sleep, muscle relaxants may help. Though pain specialists typically prescribe muscle relaxants for acute pain, they can help you rest and sleep better by inducing drowsiness. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Your doctor or pain specialist may recommend tricyclic antidepressants, especially if your chronic neck pain is nerve-related. 

Opioid Painkillers

If other treatments don’t work, your pain specialist might recommend the short-term use of prescription painkillers. 

7. Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage may relieve neck pain. If conventional treatments haven’t worked for you, you might want to ask your pain specialist about these therapies. 

Chronic Neck Pain Treatment in Houston, Dallas, and Other TX Locales

Texas Pain Physicians specializes in pain treatment, including chronic neck pain. Our friendly pain specialists will assess your medical history, pain condition, and recovery goals to develop a unique pain treatment plan for you.

Please give us a call today or book your appointment online!

 

Medications and Treatments for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is caused by compression of the thoracic outlet structures. The affected area ranges from just above the first rib up to behind the collar bone.

The condition can be extremely painful and debilitating. Treatment and management of TOS depend on the specific type.

Treatment for Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (NTOS)

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the nerves leading from the neck to the arm are compressed. Over 90 percent of cases of thoracic outlet syndrome are neurogenic.

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • pain
  • numbness and tingling in the hands
  • pain in the shoulder

Pain specialists often recommend conservative treatment and a combination of one or more treatments at the same time. NTOS treatments include (but are not limited to):

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapists aim to ease symptoms and restore upper-body function. Treatments include:

heat packs: Applying heat packs can relax muscles and lessen pain.

exercise programs: Exercises will include stretching to improve flexibility and increase strength in the affected areas.

cervical traction: Cervical traction devices help to relax the muscles, increase flexibility, and relieve pain. They do this by slightly stretching the neck, which decreases pressure on the spine by separating vertebrae. 

2. Biofeedback Therapy

A biofeedback therapist helps you practice relaxation exercises, which you fine-tune to control different body functions. 

During a therapy session, a biofeedback therapist attaches electrodes to your skin which monitor stress indicators, such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and muscle activity.

The therapist teaches you to practice relaxation techniques in stressful situations, such as deep breathing and mindfulness.

3. Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist will generally recommend simple methods for relieving pain and relieving nerve compression, the underlying cause of NTOS.

They will recommend correcting poor posture and practicing safe ergonomics, such as safely lifting heavy objects. They may also recommend simple exercises you can perform at home.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be an effective complementary treatment for TOS. It can help patients in three ways: 

  • Change their perception of pain.
  • Think about their experience in positive terms.
  • Eliminate or at least minimize believing the worst or exaggerating the situation.

5. Medication

Your pain management specialist may recommend taking over-the-counter drugs, such as 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) and muscle relaxants, such as tizanidine, can relieve muscle stiffness and pain. 

6. Botox Shots for Pain 

Your pain specialist may recommend a botox injection in the muscle at the base of the neck. 

Botox injections can relax the muscles and ease the pain. The positive effects can last for up to 3 months, and the injections are repeatable.

Treatment for Venous and Arterial Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

These two types of thoracic outlet syndrome account for only 10 percent of cases. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • pain
  • edema (swelling of the hands, fingers, and arms)
  • blue color in the hands and arms
  • bulging veins in the neck, shoulder, and hand

You will likely be treated for possible blood clots and have thoracic outlet decompression surgery. 

After this, you may need long-term pain management. In this case, your pain management specialist would recommend a combination of the above treatments and therapies.

Texas Pain Treatment and Management Specialists

At Texas Pain Physicians, our priority is to improve your quality of life.

If you have been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome or think you may have this condition, please give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book your appointment online today.

White woman curled up in bed in pain, covering her head with a pillow.

6 Fast-Acting Medications and Treatments for Severe Migraines and Cluster Headaches

Severe or acute migraines and cluster headaches are excruciating.

While there are many management, prevention, and treatment options, sometimes relief can’t wait. 

Let’s look at six prescription medications and treatments that can quickly knock out the pain from severe migraines and cluster headaches.

1. Sumatriptan (Imitrex)

Triptan drugs are fast-acting medications for acute migraines and cluster headaches.

They may be more effective for some people when combined with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen. 

In injectable form, Sumatriptan can provide fast relief from migraines and cluster headache attacks. Typically, a medical professional administers the first injection. 

Sumatriptan comes in nasal spray and oral forms. The nasal spray is for migraines and cluster headaches, and the pills are only for migraines. 

Whereas injectable and nasal Sumatriptan works in 15 minutes, oral Sumatriptan works in 30-60 minutes.

2. Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

Another triptan drug, Zolmitriptan, treats acute migraines and cluster headaches. It’s a fast-acting, painless treatment alternative for injections.

Zolmitriptan can be taken as an oral tablet to dissolve in the mouth, an oral pill to swallow, and a nasal spray.

The nasal spray works faster, taking one hour to bring significant relief, while the oral forms take two hours. 

3. Octreotide (Sandostatin)

Octreotide or Sandostatin is a synthetic form of the brain hormone somatostatin. It’s an effective treatment for acute cluster headaches but not for migraines.

However, it’s generally not as effective and doesn’t bring headache relief as quickly as Triptans. 

4. Anesthetic or Nerve Blocker 

An anesthetic or nerve blocker like lidocaine is a quick treatment for severe migraines and cluster headaches that you can’t take with you.

Only available in clinics and hospitals, administered by a medical professional, it’s an anesthetic injection into the back of the skull.

Though they aren’t accessible outside of a medical facility, nerve-blocking injections can provide pain relief from migraines and cluster headaches for months. 

5. Local Nasal Anesthetic (for cluster headaches only) 

A local nasal anesthetic is administered through the nose, providing quick cluster headache relief.

Unlike nerve blockers injected into the back of the skull, the pain relief from local nasal anesthetic wears off within hours. 

6. Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45)

Dihydroergotamine is a medication that may provide fast-acting pain relief for acute migraines and cluster headaches.

It’s effective for treating acute migraines and cluster headaches in injectable, intravenous (IV), and nasal spray forms. 

Though generally not as effective a treatment as triptans, Dihydroergotamine is associated with a low risk of migraines returning within 24 hours. 

Expert Treatment for Headache Disorders At Texas Pain Physicians

Do you suffer from severe migraine or cluster headache attacks?

Our board-certified pain management doctors will make sure you have the safe, fast-acting medication that’s right for you. 

Give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book an appointment today.

Woman with migraine

Want Extended Relief from Chronic Migraines? 7 Things to Know about Botox Treatment

The thudding pain feels like getting kicked in the head again and again. 

You can only lay down in a dark, quiet room until it goes away.

There is no known cure for chronic migraines.

But…

Imagine living with fewer migraine attacks – or no attacks – for months. Imagine not having to take pain meds all the time.

It’s possible with Botox injections for migraines. Here are seven things to know about this treatment.

1. Does Botox treatment eliminate migraine attacks?

According to the American Migraine Foundation, studies show that Botox injections for migraines reduce the number of days patients suffer from migraines or other headaches by 50%.

2. How does Botox stop migraine attacks?

Botox, or botulinum, is a neurotoxin extracted from mold. Well-known for its use as a cosmetic treatment, the FDA approved Botox as a treatment for migraines in 2010.

Though doctors don’t know precisely how Botox stops migraines, they suggest that it blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.

3. Who can get this treatment?

Those with diagnosed chronic migraine. Chronic migraine symptoms:

  • headaches at least 15 days of each month
  • eight migraine headaches each month
  • these symptoms occur for at least three months

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, a headache specialist or neurologist prescribes the treatment.

4. What’s a Botox treatment session like?

The neurologist typically administers shots of Botox in the head and neck once every three months. Doctors don’t give Botox injections more often than every three months because this could trigger the body’s immune response, which would make the treatment ineffective.

Doctors trained to treat migraine with Botox administer the injections (not plastic surgeons trained to use Botox for cosmetic purposes). Around 30 to 40 injections are administered evenly to each side of the head and neck.

5. How long does it take to see results?

Results come within 2 to 3 weeks, and the effects last 10-12 weeks. Alternative medication is needed to treat migraines during the ineffective period. Patients see better and better results after multiple treatment cycles.

6. Are there any side effects?

The most common side effects are swelling and bruising at the injection sites. Less common side effects include head and neck pain and headaches.

7. Does insurance cover this?

Botox injection sessions as a treatment for chronic migraines cost thousands of dollars a year. A patient’s insurance company will cover the treatment when the patient has been diagnosed with chronic migraine headaches.

Insurance companies may not cover Botox treatments for adolescents and children.

Migraine treatment in Houston, Dallas, and many other Texas locations. 

Don’t allow this debilitating condition to interfere with your life a day longer.

At Texas Pain Physicians, we have a team of doctors who specialize in pain management. Botox injection is one of our treatments for chronic migraines.

Please give us a call at (972) 636-5727 to set up an appointment at your nearest Texas Pain Physicians location.

Woman suffering from Migraine

Migraines Cancelling Your Schedule? Here Are 5 Ways To Get Back On Track

You reach out for the wall to steady yourself. Stars chase each other across your field of vision.

It’s another migraine attack.

Migraine Facts

Throbbing pain from migraines can be debilitating. About 12% of Americans suffer from migraine headaches.

Migraine triggers include:

  • emotional stress
  • missed meals
  • caffeine reaction to chemicals and preservatives in food
  • frequent use of pain-relieving medication
  • light
  • hormonal changes in women.

Though they can strike at any time, migraines most often occur at a rate of 2-4 per month.

Steps you can take to manage your migraines:

 

1. See a specialist.

See a doctor as soon as possible when you first experience migraine symptoms. Your primary care physician can diagnose migraines and start treatment.

Sometimes primary care physicians will recommend a neurologist or “headache doctor.”

The primary care physician or neurologist will help you develop a treatment plan and prescribe abortive and preventative medications.

2. Practice sleep hygiene.

Most people need at least eight hours of sleep. Try to get enough sleep, go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every day. Turn off the TV and electronic devices with screens an hour before bed.

3. Change your diet.

Work with a nutritionist or doctor to identify foods that contribute to or trigger your migraines. Keeping a record of what you eat and drink can help identify the problematic foods.

Though one size does not fit all, keeping regular mealtimes, and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, can decrease the chance of a migraine attack.

4. Keep a migraine journal.

Keep track of the details of your migraine attacks, such as:

  • date and time migraine started
  • all the migraine phases and their duration
  • detailed symptoms
  • quality of sleep the night before the migraine attack
  • diet details (any missed meals or foods that may have triggered it)
  • pain description and rating from 1 to 10
  • pain location (jaw, side of the head, eye)
  • list of medications (daily and non-routine)
  • describe treatment (of migraine), including dosage, frequency, and whether it worked

5. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise is one of the keys to keeping a healthy diet and sleep schedule. Exercising outside is more effective in regulating sleep and eating rhythms.

 

Migraine Treatment at Texas Pain Physicians

Are you dealing with the pain of a migraine attack? Are you worried about your next migraine attack? Do you have undiagnosed migraine symptoms?

Our board-certified pain management specialists can get you on a treatment plan tailored to your condition and lifestyle.

Give us a call at (972) 636-5727 or book an appointment online today!