I have headaches. How can an orthopedic doctor help me?

Headaches and other symptoms can be signs of neck problems. Because the neck is made to move the head in many directions, it's also vulnerable to wear and tear and degeneration from aging, pinched nerve issues, herniated discs, and injuries such as whiplash and trauma from sports and falls.

Common symptoms of neck problems include:

  • neck pain

  • headaches

  • pain radiating down the back and into the arms

  • difficulty moving the neck in some directions and/or to full rotation

  • stiffness in the neck

  • muscle weakness in the hand, arm, or shoulder

  • tingling, numbness, or prickling sensations in the

  • hand, forearm, or fingers

In less common cases, bladder and bowel issues and changes in walking can occur from a problem in the neck. This usually requires immediate medical attention.

An orthopedic doctor is well-trained and experienced in diagnosing problems stemming from the neck area. He or she will take a full health history, ask several questions about your current symptoms, and perform a thorough physical exam. The orthopedic doctor is also likely to use neck and reflex testing and MRI and/or xray imaging to determine the cause of your symptoms. Once a diagnosis is found, the doctor can help you understand your particular condition. Together, the two of you can plan the right treatment course for you and any of your family members who will be affected by your care.

Treatment for symptoms from neck problems is usually nonsurgical. Patients who receive medication, injections, physical therapy, hot/cold treatments, or even a pressure-relieving collar can experience improvements in a short time period. For those who don't respond to nonsurgical treatment or have a more serious problem, surgery may be the best option. There are a variety of effective surgical techniques and procedures available.