Nonsurgical Treatment of Cervical Spine Problems

Cervical spine problems can often be treated without surgery. Choices may include rest, medicines, or injections. Your healthcare provider may also suggest certain exercises. All these treatments may help to ease your symptoms and are often successful. If your symptoms don’t get better, talk with your healthcare provider. They may advise surgery as your best treatment option.

Easing your symptoms

Your healthcare provider may advise:

  • Medicines. These help to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Epidural steroid injections. These are injections into the spinal canal near the spinal cord. They may ease severe pain and reduce inflammation.

  • Limits on activities that make your symptoms worse. This can give your neck time to heal.

  • A soft cervical collar. This can help to support and immobilize your neck. It can also keep your cervical spine aligned.

  • Traction. This may help ease pressure on the irritated nerves.

Restoring mobility and strength

Your healthcare provider may advise that you work with a physical therapist, an osteopathic doctor, or a chiropractor. They can help you get back movement and strength in your neck. Physical therapy may last for 4 to 8 weeks. It may include:

  • Exercises. These can improve your neck’s range of motion and strength.

  • Evaluation and correction of posture and body movements. This can fix problems that affect your cervical spine.

  • Heat, massage, and traction. These can help ease your symptoms.

Self-care

You’ll take an active role in your own therapy. To protect your neck from more injury:

  • Follow any exercise program given to you by your healthcare provider or physical therapist.

  • Practice good posture while sitting, standing, or moving.

  • Have your workspace evaluated. Rearrange it if needed.

  • When lying down, support your neck. You can use a special cervical pillow or rolled-up towel.

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