Know anyone that has experienced burning pain in their neck (back of neck) that radiates to the face , and if so how do they relieve it?
April 20, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Know anyone that has experienced burning pain in their neck (back of neck) that radiates to the face , and if so how do they relieve it?

I understand the responses will come from non doctors (IANAD). I am looking for responses from people who have experienced or experience the pain I have.

Currently I have lots of 'burning' sensations in the back of my neck. Its like I'm being sunburned (the skin just feels like its burning). I have had an MRI done and a Nerve Conduction (sp?) (NCV) test done. The NCV found nothing out of the ordinary (at that time they were trying to see if my left arm was going numb on its own or only when necked was pushed/turned certain way and found it was most likely due to some weird pressure the doctor was causing during the exam)

The MRI showed some 'bone spurs' on a few C areas (C3-C6).
I am going to see a pain management specialist who has suggested nerve burning (burn the nerves). However, insurance requires a wait between seeing the ortho who referred me and actually having the procedure done, etc.

I have had Vicodin prescribed in the interim, it does nothing for this burning sensation, same for Tylenol or Advil. I take lunesta or melatonin at night just so I can sleep.

A few things can make it more intense, I use a laptop frequently through the day for taking notes, etc and looking down makes it much worse same for reading. I have looked at both 'Get It Straight' posture DVDs and the book/dvds by Paul Egoscue on posture. Also looking at seeing a chiropractor who can assist in posture correction.

However, so far no relief after a few weeks of trying 'correct' posture and easing the computer use/reading with a book stacked. Also laying down with a cervical roll under my neck doesn't help. I've also tried adding turmeric as I've read that helps with 'nerve pain' and after a week I saw no difference, and if I'm having the nerve burning done I can't do anything that thins the blood for awhile if I can help it and my understanding turmeric supplements do this (no idea if true just what nurse said).

Looking for ideas to get relief as noted above or what others in the end did to get rid of the burning sensations. Thanks in advance!
posted by aorkis to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might try wearing a soft cervical collar around when you're home or not in public.

If there's a nerve that's irritated sometimes this will help relieve the pain.
posted by AuntieRuth at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2011

this is not my area of specialty/IANYD, but I would look into medications that are aimed towards neuropathic pain, such as amitriptyline or Cymbalta, assuming you've already tried NSAIDs. Opiates like Vicodin aren't always helpful for this type of pain. The followup with the pain specialist sounds like a good idea.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2011

To throw out an idea that doesn't require a prescription, consider capsaicin cream? The ingredient is the stuff from chili peppers.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:35 AM on April 20, 2011

This may seem like a completely left field answer, but I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility. I had SEVERE "back of neck" pain that often burned like you describe. It radiated through my shoulders, back and arms (but not the face like your situation). Doctors found damage in my neck from an accident, but physical therapy, muscle relaxers, chiropractors and even accupuncture did not relieve the pain.

Turns out, I have severe acid reflux from esophogitis. I had no heart burn or indigestion so this was not anywhere in the realm of possibilities we had looked into. I happened to have regular indigestion one day, and took an acid relieving pill. Boom! My neck felt better!

A scope found it was esophogitis, I take one acid reliever daily and I've been pain free ever since.

This may have NOTHING to do with your pain, but since it was not on my radar at all for my own pain I hated to not share it as a possibility for you just in case. Whatever it is, I hope you find relief soon. That kind of constant pain affects your life in so many ways.
posted by 3fluffies at 11:11 AM on April 20, 2011

hey, how does the pain radiate into your face? Here's a very non-official choose-your-own-face-pain adventure. is it any of these options:

a) kind of up the back of your head on one side, making your scalp sensitive and going into your eyeball? (but not lower into your jaw)

b)sore under your adams' apple area, along your collar bone and also along your ear?

c)kind of radiating from the side of your face, into your jaw and nose and eye and forehead, sore to move your tongue (but possible to move it)?

if a, or a & b, these nerves (cervical plexus) exit your spine around C2, C3 and C4. The bone spurs could explain this; it's also likely that there's some weird stuff happening with your spine (either the muscles are super tight, compressing these nerves, or the vertebrae are shifted somehow - have you fallen or been in an accident or been hit recently before these symptoms happened?)

if it's c, it sounds like your trigeminal nerve might be somehow affected (infection, something pushing on it, etc.)

at any rate, if we want to talk about eliminating the risks, you might ask your doctor for a CAT scan to eliminate tumors or other bad-news items in this area (very unlikely, by the way, please don't freak out.)

if you live in canada, i could give you some recommendations to see an osteopath (a good one) - they do lots of work of this variety (full disclosure: i am studying to BE an osteopath, so i'm enthusiastic and biased). if not, other options would include a massage therapist (not so much the spa kind, more the medical kind) or possibly a chiropractor.

good luck! you can message me if you want more info about whatever, including more guesses about what is going on.
posted by andreapandrea at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2011

I would suggest you exhaust all the noninvasive interventions described above first, and leave nerve burning (cauterization?) as a last resort.

One more thing to consider in the differential is fibromyalgia. There's not enough information to go on, but your description could match fibromyalgia trigger points.

Talk to your pain MD about trying the meds that treehorn+bunny suggested. I would also suggest a trial of gabapentin as well.

Actually, before cauterization, ask your pain MD about a trying a simple transient nerve block first. If you have pain relief with a nerve block, then cauterization would be a reasonable next step. If you have no relief with a transient nerve block, then you are unlikely to feel better after cauterization.
posted by Meta-4 at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2011

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