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Pain In Left Side Of Neck

It started as a low grade ache and has now progressed to a constant burn.  Conservative care and medications have failed.  Why is there pain in the left side of your Neck? How does the pain in the left side of Neck feel? What may be causing the Neck pain? What is the diagnostic process?  What are the treatment options for pain in the left Neck? What are the Regenerative treatment options? Let’s dig in. 

Understanding What’s Behind the Pain in Left Side of Neck

Almost everyone has experienced a sore or stiff Neck at some point.   The overall prevalence of Neck pain ranges from 04. to 86.8% of the general population (1).  Read more to learn the signs, symptoms, causes of treatment options for pain in the left side of Neck. 

Why Is There Pain In The Left Side of Your Neck?

Neck pain can arise from a number of different conditions.  Common causes of minor, intermittent Neck pain include fatigue, improper sleeping position, stress and overactivity.  If neck pain persists it is a warning sign that you may have a problem that warrants investigation.  Think of it as the red engine light on your car.  It is warning that if left unchecked can progress to serious and expensive consequences. 

What Does the Pain in the Left Side of the Neck Feel Like?

Neck pain can present in a number of different ways.  Location and severity can very from patient to patient depending upon the injury and past medical history.  Common examples include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Sharp-shooting pain on the left side of the Neck
  • General soreness on the Neck area
  • Limited range of motion and flexibility
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle tightness and spasm
  • Localized pain at the base of the skull 

Possible Conditions Causing The Pain

Pain in the left side of the Neck can arise from many different sources.  It is important to understand and identify where the pain is arising from.  In doing so the best treatment plan can be started. Common causes of Neck pain include:

Cervical Disc Injury

Sandwiched between the boney building blocks in the Neck is a Disc.  It functions as an important shock absorber and allows for motion between adjacent segments.  It is susceptible to injury and degeneration.  Common examples include Disc Protrusions, Annular Tears and Disc Herniations.  Cervical Disc injury can cause pain in the left side of the Neck. 

Muscle Tension

Muscles provide important stability and movement in the Neck.  Muscles can be injured due to fatigue,  trauma, repetitive activity, and poor ergonomics.  Muscle tension can cause pain on either side of the Neck.  When severe it limits your ability to move your Neck. 

Cervical Facet Injury

A Facet joint is a paired joint located on the backside of the spine.  Paired means that there is a right and left Facet joint.  Facet joints are present at each level of spine and provide stability to the spine and limit movement.  Like your knee or ankle joint, Facet joints are lined with cartilage which allows for smooth, pain free movement of the joint.  Cervical Facet joints can become irritated or injured resulting in pain in the left side of the Neck. 

Whiplash 

Whiplash is a Neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth whipping motion of the head and Neck.  Whiplash can also be described as “an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy to the Neck” (2).  Whiplash is common with an estimated 1,000,000 cases per year in the United States (3). Whiplash type injuries can cause significant Neck pain and restriction in range of motion. 

Ligament Injuries

Ligaments are thick pieces of connective tissue that connect bone to bone.  Think of them as human duct tape.  Ligaments provide stability to the Spine.  Ligament injuries can compromise the stability of the Spine leading to dysfunction and pain in the left side of Neck.  The great news is that many Grade 1 and 2 injuries can be treated with ultrasound and x-ray guided Regenerative treatments. 

Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical Radiculopathy is a painful medical condition that occurs as a result of irritation or compression of  nerve in the Neck.  Often times it is referred to as a ” pinched nerve” and can involve radiating arm pain, weakness and numbness.  Pain is typically burning or electrical in character and unresponsive to Opioid therapy.

Cervical Fracture

Bones in the Spine are susceptible to fracture which can cause pain in left side of Neck.  X-ray and CAT scans are useful in identifying fractures.

Infection

Infection of skin, muscles, tendons, bone and coverings of the Spinal Cord and Brain can cause pain in left side of Neck.  Trauma is the most common cause. Treatment involves antibiotic treatment. 

Torticollis

Torticollis is a painful medical condition in which the muscles in the Neck spasm and cause the head and neck to twist to one side.  The exact cause of Torticollis is unknown. Symptoms include pain, inability to turn the head and muscle spasm.  

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is a medical condition in which there is narrowing of the spaces within your Spine.  This can put pressure on the nerves traveling within your Spine resulting in pain, dysfunction, weakness and numbness. 

Spinal Tumor

Tumors in the Spine can occur causing pain, neurologic symptoms and restriction in range of motion.  The good news is that some Spinal tumors are benign. 

Cervical Radiculopathy

Common Cervical Radiculopathy symptoms include neck pain, arm pain, shoulder pain radiating down arm to fingers, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Cervical Radiculopathy is a clinical condition in which a nerve or nerves in your neck become irritated or compressed. It is also known as ” a pinched nerve,” The causes are discussed below. It can affect individuals of any age with peak prominence between ages 40-50 years of age. Cervical Radiculopathy is due to spinal nerve inflammation, irritation, or compression. The most common causes of Cervical Radiculopathy are: Disc Injury – The disc is an important shock absorber. Unfortunately, it is susceptible to injury.

Read More About Cervical Radiculopathy

Facet Joint Syndrome

Injury or inflammation of the cervical facet can led to neck, shoulder and headache pain – called “cervical facet syndrome.” Cervical facet syndrome largely involves a joint in the posterior aspect of the cervical spine. It functions to provide stability and guide motion. cervical facet joint injection for cervical facet syndrome Cervical facet pain is common in patients who have sustained a whiplash injury, trauma to the neck or undergone cervical fusion. Physical examination is typically significant for restriction in range of motion along with pain. Each joint has a distinct referral pattern illustrated below. The Centeno-Schultz Clinic are experts at diagnosing and treating cervical facet dysfunction. Injury to the joint is not commonly detected by conventional radiographic studies.

Read More About Facet Joint Syndrome

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the central spinal canal and is a cause of significant pain and disability.  Common causes of spinal stenosis include disc protrusion, facet overgrowth and ligamentum flavum thickening.  Surgery is often chosen when conservative therapies fail despite the lack of convincing evidence that it is a superior treatment option.  Are there alternatives to back surgery for spinal stenosis?  Yes. Regenexx DDD utilizes precise platelet injections into the facets, muscles, and ligaments to treat the lumbar stenosis, treating all of the components of the issue, which is crucial. Spinal stenosis is often an age-related condition attributed…

Read More About Spinal Stenosis

Diagnostic Process To Treat Symptoms

Neck pain is not a diagnosis but rather is a symptom.  An accurate diagnosis is essential to best clinical outcomes.  Masking pain with medications and injections is a disservice as it risks the underlying problem most likely getting worse.  Establishing an accurate diagnosis starts with history of the current Neck pain, aggravating, alleviating factors and triggering event.  Review of past medical, surgical history and traumas is important.  Thereafter a physical examination will focus on range of motion, muscle symmetry and an intact neurologic system.  Radiographic studies are often recommended and may include flexion, extension x-ray, CT scans and MRI.  At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic an in office ultrasound examination is used to evaluate tendon, ligament and muscle integrity. 

Treatment Options for Pain in Left Neck

Physical Therapy

Conservative care when appropriate should be the first-line treatment.  This would include Physical Therapy with an Emphasis on neutral Spine alignment, improved stability, range of motion and strength.  The Centeno-Schultz Clinic has an outstanding Physical Therapist in-house that can assist and guide patients in their care.  To learn about Mark Reilly and treatment options more please click here.  

Pain Relief Medications

The most common pain relief medications include: 

NSAIDs

Persistent pain is often treated with NSAIDs which have significant side effects and risks.  These medications are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that reduce inflammation.  Common examples include Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Diclofenac. Major risks include dependence, stroke, sudden death, GI bleeding, and depression of stem cell activity.

Narcotics

If pain persists and is not responsive to NSAIDs, some providers recommend oral Narcotics.  This can be extremely dangerous as Narcotics have significant side effects including dependence.  Masking the pain with NSAIDs and Narcotics does not address or treat the underlying problem. 

Oral Steroids

Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.  Common examples include Prednisone, Methylprednisolone, Dexamethasone.  Steroids have significant side effects that include increased risk of serious bone disease, depression of your stem cells, and damage to tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.  To learn more about the Steroid risks click here.  

Corticosteroid Injections

When conservative care and medications fail some patients are referred to Steroid injections.  While steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents they have significant risks which were discussed above. Steroid injections may actually make the pain worse long-term as Steroids can damage ligaments tendons and the cartilage of joints. 

Surgery

Surgery is often recommended when pain persists despite conservative care, medication management and Steroid injections. There are many different types of surgeries and which will depend upon the underlying condition and its severity.  Common risks associated with surgery include bleeding, infection, failure, escalation of pain, Adjacent Segment Disease and irreversible change in the biomechanics of the Cervical Spine. Surgery should be avoided if possible. 

Home Strategies You Can Try For Pain in the Left Side of Neck

For acute pain that is mild in nature you may consider one of more of the following home treatments:

Rest

It’s best to stop the offending trigger or activity and give your body the chance to heal.

Heat

Heat improves the blood flow to a given area which can accelerate the healing process.  Blood flow to an area of damage is like water in a garden.  It promotes healing and recovery.

Good Posture

Extended periods of screen time on our phones and computers has compromised our posture and neutral spinal alignment.  Good posture is essential of a healthy, happy and pain free Neck.

Good Sleeping Postures

Sleeping posture is strongly related to the quality of sleep (4).  The two best positions are lying on your back or on your side. Sleeping on your back maintains normal spinal curvature (5)

Regenerative Treatment Options for Pain in Left Side of Neck

The Physicians at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic are experts in the treatment of Neck, Thoracic and Low Back Pain.  Not all clinics or treatments are the same.  Important differences between the Centeno-Schultz Clinic and others are:

Comprehensive Approach

The human body is a remarkable unit of nerves, muscles, tendons and bones that work together in a synchronistic way.  Each body part works together and is reliant on other body parts.  Remember the old Dem Bones song ” Shoulder bone is connected to the neck bone. Neck bone is connected to the head bone….”  It is all interconnected.  In evaluating a patient with Neck pain, the Shoulders, Thoracic and Low Back should also be examined.  This is the SANS approach and stands for Stability, Articulation, Neurologic and Symmetry.  To learn more about this unique approach click here

Board Certification and Fellowship Trained Physicians

In medicine you get what you pay for.  Years of study and experience are required for mastery in Orthopedics and Regenerative medicine.  There are very few dedicated Fellowship programs solely focused on the use of PRP and using your body’s own healing agents like Bone Marrow Concentrate which contains your own stem cells for common Orthopedic conditions.  Mid-levels such a PA’s and NP lack this expertise. 

Extensive Publications

At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic were have a large number of peer reviewed publications.  Collectively they represent over 40% of all the publications in the world on.  To view the list click here

Clinical Registry on Outcomes

Following clinical outcomes is critical to patient care as it allows both provider and patient to identify successes and areas that require additional improvement.   Our registry track is easily accessed and tracks changes to pain, function and overall improvement.  To see the registry please click here

Clinical Experience

The Centeno-Schultz Clinic has 17 years of clinical experience in the treatment of common orthopedic conditions utilizing PRP and Bone Marrow Concentrate.  There are no Botox injections, medication management, or Radiofrequency Ablation procedures.  Our exclusive focus is the advancement of Orthobiologics so that patients can avoid unnecessary and oftentimes life-changing orthopedic surgery. To learn more about Orthobiologics and how it can help you with your ongoing orthopedic pain,  please watch the video below.

State of the Art Laboratory 

At the Centeno-Schultz Clinic we have a university level laboratory staffed with Cell Biologists including a PhD. This allows us to use advanced, proprietary lab processing techniques to ensure we have the right concentrations of cells to treat your specific injury.  In contrast most Regenerative clinics use one-size-fits-all bedside centrifuges which can lead to suboptimal clinical results.  Each individual’s body and injury is unique and as such requires a tailored, customized PRP and or Bone Marrow Concentrate for optimal healing. Don’t cheat yourself.

Guidance on All Procedures  

All injections are performed under X-ray or Ultrasound guidance to ensure that the cells are accurately injected into the targeted structures.  Blind injections are below our standard of care and can limit patients’ success.   The procedures are demanding as they require detailed understanding of the anatomy along with the ability to accurately place the needle into the targeted structure.  These injections can not be performed by your PCP or Orthopedic surgeon.  To watch a Cervical injection please click on the video below.

In Summary

Neck pain is common

Persistent Neck pain is a warning sign that warrants investigation.

Neck pain can present in a number of different ways which include stiffness, sharp shooting pain, soreness, and limited range of motion.

Possible causes of Neck pain include:

  • Cervical Disc injury
  • Muscle Tension
  • Cervical Facet Injury
  • Whiplash Injury
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Cervical Fracture 
  • Infection
  • Torticollis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spinal Tumor

Treatment options for pain in Left neck include physical therapy, medications, steroid injections and surgery.  

Regenerative treatment options exist that identify the cause of the pain and treat it using your own PRP and Bone Marrow Concentrate. 

If you or a loved one have pain in Left neck that has not responded to conservative therapy, please schedule a Telemedicine consultation. Avoid the dependence of medications and periodic steroid injections. Stop the suffering and learn from a Board Certified, Fellowship trained Physician what your Regenerative treatment options are today.


1.Hoy DG, Protani M, De R, Buchbinder R. The epidemiology of neck pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2010 Dec;24(6):783-92. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2011.01.019. PMID: 21665126.

2.Pastakia K, Kumar S. Acute whiplash associated disorders (WAD). Open Access Emerg Med. 2011;3:29-32. Published 2011 Apr 27. doi:10.2147/OAEM.S17853.

3.Rosenfeld M, Seferiadis A, Gunnarsson R. Active involvement and intervention in patients exposed to whiplash trauma in automobile crashes reduces costs: a randomized, controlled clinical trial and health economic evaluation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006 Jul 15;31(16):1799-804. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000225975.12978.6c. Erratum in: Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 Nov 15;37(24):E1537- 40. PMID: 16845354

4.Jeon MY, Jeong H, Lee S, Choi W, Park JH, Tak SJ, Choi DH, Yim J. Improving the quality of sleep with an optimal pillow: a randomized, comparative study. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2014 Jul;233(3):183-8. doi: 10.1620/tjem.233.183. PMID: 25008402.

5.Lee WH, Ko MS. Effect of sleep posture on neck muscle activity. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(6):1021-1024. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1021.

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