Dog post surgery shaking

Shaking is a common response to pain. It can be mild or severe. It can even be a violent, uncontrollable shaking. In a patient with an implant placed into the spine, there is always the potential of this reaction.

The implant may cause spinal instability. The implant may also rub on the bone and cause pain.

When the implant is placed anteriorly, the greater the implant thickness, the higher the risk for this condition.

  • The implant is too large and causes the bones in the spine to fuse together.
  • The implant is too small and does not provide enough support for the spine.

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Pain in the neck, back, arm, and hand
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm or hand
  • Muscle spasms
  • Severe muscle spasms that interrupt sleep

Symptoms may worsen with activity and decrease with rest. For example, pain may increase with exercise and decrease with rest.

Severe pain may require treatment with medications and/or surgery.

Infection

Infection is a condition in which the spinal cord becomes inflamed and swollen. This swelling may have many causes.

The most common cause is a bacterial infection. Other causes include:

  • A pinched nerve
  • Tumor
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Symptoms of infection may include:

  • Pain in the neck, back, and arm
  • Numbness and weakness in the arm or hand
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes and skin

Pain may worsen with activity and decrease with rest. For example, pain may increase with exercise and decrease with rest.

Cervical stenosis

Cervical stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column between the neck and the lower back. The narrowing is caused by a bony growth that presses on the spinal cord. This condition is often treated with a spinal fusion.

Symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Neck and arm pain
  • Numbness in the arm and hand
  • Weakness and/or muscle spasms
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Inability to control bowel and bladder
  • Dizziness
  • Cervical pain that is worse with coughing and sneezing
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms may worsen with activity and decrease with rest.

Treatment may be with medications and/or surgical procedures.

When to contact a doctor?

You should see your doctor if your symptoms do not improve with treatment and if you have new symptoms.

It is important to note that the most common causes of neck pain can be treated. However, if the cause of your neck pain is a pinched nerve, infection, or cervical stenosis, you should seek medical advice.

Causes of neck pain in older adults

The causes of neck pain in older adults are different than the causes of neck pain in younger adults.

In older adults, most neck pain is likely due to injuries. Most injuries result from falls or other traumas.

Other causes of neck pain in older adults include:

  • Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal column between the neck and the lower back.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Discs in the lower back and neck wear out.
  • Herniated disc: Discs bulge through the outer wall of a disc or protrude into the spinal canal.
  • Cervical spondylosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal that occurs with age.
  • Spondylolisthesis: Slippage of the vertebrae in the neck.
  • Osteoarthritis: A breakdown of the joints and cartilage in the spine.
  • Infections: Infections in the spine may cause pain and may require treatment.

Symptoms of neck pain in older adults

In the older adult, neck pain may be similar to the symptoms of a stroke or a heart attack. The symptoms of these conditions can include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding simple statements.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden vision problems such as blurred vision or double vision.
  • Confusion
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty driving

Some causes of these symptoms can be life-threatening. See your doctor immediately if you or your loved one is having any of these symptoms.

How is neck pain diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects neck pain, they will ask about your symptoms and perform a medical examination. They will also order tests to check the function of your spine.

The tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scans
  • CT scans
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Nerve root monitoring

If your doctor suspects any spinal problems, they may order:

  • Blood tests
  • Spinal fluid tests
  • Muscle biopsies
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation

Treatments for neck pain in older adults

The treatments for neck pain in older adults depend on the cause. If you have a pinched nerve, surgery may be necessary.

Other treatments may include:

  • Physical therapy: If your pain is severe, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help prevent and manage chronic neck pain.
  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers and muscle relaxers.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to treat an underlying cause of your neck pain.

Complications of neck pain in older adults

Complications of neck pain can include:

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Nerve damage
  • A stroke
  • A heart attack

The symptoms of neck pain in older adults can be similar to those of several other serious conditions. See your doctor for a diagnosis.

Outlook for neck pain in older adults

The symptoms of neck pain in older adults are different than the symptoms of neck pain in younger adults. However, if they are still present, see your doctor.

If you have neck pain that is severe, you should see your doctor.

If you are in pain, you should try to find a way to reduce the pain. For example, you can try:

  • Medications: If you have chronic neck pain, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you manage your pain.
  • Splinting: If you have neck pain, your doctor may suggest using an orthopedic sling to help maintain your posture, relieve pressure on the spine, and improve range of motion.
  • Physical therapy: If you have chronic neck pain, physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles in your neck and decrease pain.
  • Heat and cold therapy: If you have neck pain, heat and cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and make your muscles more flexible.

If you have a pinched nerve, surgery is the best treatment option. If the cause of your neck pain is a spinal stenosis, the condition may be treated with a spinal fusion.

Infections such as discitis and spondylitis can be treated with pain relievers and rest.

The bottom line

A neck spasm is a local pain in the neck or upper back. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain that is worse when you move the neck
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand

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