The treatment for chronic neck pain, or even an injury to the area, might start with a steroid solution injection to reduce inflammation and get healing started quickly. As with spine injections, which we discussed in the previous section, the steroid of choice is called cortisone, and is synthesized in the lab to mimic the natural human hormone cortisol. These types of shots have been around since the 1950s, thus have a long history of successfully helping in the mission to manage pain.
Though perhaps less commonly used in the neck than other areas like knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, and lower backs, don’t be surprised if Dr. Kaufman thinks a neck injection could be the first (and hopefully last) step in the mission to eliminate your pain completely or at least bring it down to a manageable level while other options are considered.
Once again, this corticosteroid is an entirely different steroid than the anabolic steroids used by many a professional, college, and unfortunately, sometimes high school athlete in the pursuit of becoming bigger, faster, and stronger.
In the medical setting, cortisone, which is not a specific pain reliever in its own right, is mixed with a local anesthetic for administration. The anesthetic offers immediate short-term pain relief while the cortisone goes to work reducing inflammation that will provide longer term relief. Without the anesthetic, the injection area could be painful following the shot from the presence of the steroid in the body. The local also helps control pain until the body absorbs the cortisone. If you experience pain or discomfort in the hours following an injection, feel free to use an ice bag on and off until it passes.
Dr. Kaufman might suggest a cortisone injection during your first visit, though often, especially in the case of soft tissue injuries like a muscle strain or pinched nerve, rest, ice, and physical therapy are prescribed as initial treatment. Steroid injections for your neck may be spaced out into a series of three. While they can provide significant pain relief on a temporary basis, and maybe even eliminate the issue entirely, many people use them as a stopgap measure to postpone surgical intervention or as a replacement for surgery in people who would not be expected to do well with that drastic measure.
Dr. Kaufman encourages anyone in the Miami area with neck pain to call 786.369.4010 today for an appointment. The reality is that you probably don’t have to live with it.