Q:

What medically validated options exist to correct problems with the cervical spine?

A:

Quick Answer

Medically validated options that correct cervical spine problems include pain medications, exercise, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment, says Spine-health. Surgery is a last option when more conservative methods do not bring relief.

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Drugs that ease the discomfort of cervical spine problems include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, oral steroids, narcotic pain relievers or muscle relaxants, according to Spine-health. Oral steroids also reduce inflammation, but patients should not take them over a long period of time due to adverse side effects. They are best used when the patient suffers episodes of severe pain. Muscle relaxants ease symptoms because they have an overall soothing effect on the body.

Exercises involve stretching the neck in as many ways as possible to keep the cervical spine supple, says Spine-health. The patient works with his physician or physical therapist to develop the best exercise regimen for his neck problems. In some cases, the patient gets relief from wearing a cervical collar, using a cervical pillow or placing his neck in traction. These devices stabilize and align the neck vertebrae.

Decompression surgery is an option if the symptoms do not respond to other treatments within six months, says Spine-health. The surgeon removes the disk, tissue or bone, which frees up the nerve, and he fuses the vertebrae in the area together with a bone graft or a cage, explains WebMD.

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