NEUROSURGERY BLOG

When Should You See a Doctor For Neck & Arm Pain, Weakness or Numbness?

Experiencing arm pain, weakness, or numbness can be concerning and disruptive to daily life, leading many to wonder when it's time to seek medical attention. Dr. Tim Johans, a distinguished neurosurgeon, often advises patients on the appropriate steps to take when faced with such symptoms.

Dr. Johans is a Diplomat and Fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, board certified in Pain Management and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He began his neurosurgical career in 1988 and has been practicing in Boise since 1993. With these credentials, you can trust that Dr. Johans has the specialized knowledge and experience to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

He is a dedicated family man who is heavily involved in his community, is involved in several hospital boards and committees and takes pride in being a faith-driven person. Dr. Johans has had a 3 level neck fusion and can discuss options from his vast personal experience.

We also work closely with other non-surgeons if necessary so that our patients can access all available resources when making decisions regarding their treatment plans. Additionally, our team is always prompt in responding to inquiries and addressing patients' concerns throughout their recovery process. Reviews on Google and Healthgrades show that many individuals who have sought treatment from Dr. Johans have found success in his treatments while feeling comfortable and supported throughout their experiences at our office.

What Type of Doctor Should I See for Neck and Arm Pain?

When experiencing only neck pain, that is, no arm pain, numbness, or weakness, patients should start with a primary care physician who can assess the general cause of their discomfort. However, if your arm pain is persistent, severe, or accompanied by symptoms like numbness or weakness radiating from the shoulders or hands, seeking a specialist consultation with a neurosurgeon, such as Dr. Johans, is urgently recommended.

Neurosurgeons specialize in conditions affecting the nerves and spinal cord and are particularly adept at handling cases where nerve compression is suspected.

Consulting with Dr. Johans for arm or shoulder pain does not necessarily mean surgery is the only solution. He is committed to transparency, providing all available treatment options, both surgical and nonsurgical, to ensure patients make informed decisions that align with their lifestyle.

Woman experiencing neck pain

How Effective Are Treatments for Neck and Arm Pain?

Neck pain itself is a complex issue that can have many causes, and thus successful alleviation of neck pain is not as assured compared to alleviating pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the shoulder, arm, or hand, which is highly successful. Dr. Johans can pinpoint the root cause of the issue within the neck, typically caused by nerve compression.

The effectiveness of treatment for neck and arm pain largely depends on the underlying cause. For mild or moderate pain physical therapy, medication, and sometimes surgical intervention are common approaches. Physical therapy and pain management techniques are highly effective for pain related to muscle strain, while medications can address joint inflammation.

Advanced treatments, including surgery, may be necessary for conditions like herniated discs or cervical radiculopathy, which cause pain, numbness, or weakness down the arm. Dr. Johans emphasizes that outcomes for surgical treatments, such as cervical disc replacement, are significantly positive, especially when patients do not delay consulting with him. Disc replacement surgery, in particular, offers the benefits of quicker recovery times and maintained neck mobility compared to disc fusion surgery.

Can Cervical Disc Fusion or Replacement Help with Severe Neck Pain?

Are There Non-Surgical Options to Treat Neck and Arm Pain?

Non-surgical treatments play an important role in managing and preventing neck and arm pain. These include physical therapy with exercises designed to strengthen and stretch muscles, medication ranging from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription anti-inflammatories, and alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage therapy.

Lifestyle modifications, such as ergonomic adjustments and posture correction could also provide some relief. These options are particularly relevant for patients experiencing mild to moderate arm or shoulder pain, and can be checked by your primary care doctor. If you have any arm or hand numbness or weakness you need to be further consulted by Dr. Johans immediately, as these almost always will require a surgical repair. The longer you wait, the lower the change for a full return of arm function.

man feeling neck and shoulder pain and testing his arm's range of motion

When Is Surgery the Best Option For Neck and Arm Pain, Weakness or Numbness?

Neck surgery becomes the best option when conservative treatments have been exhausted without adequate relief from arm or shoulder pain, or development of weakness, or numbness. Surgical intervention offers a definitive solution to structural issues causing nerve root or spinal cord compression.

Severe neck symptoms that impair daily function for longer than six weeks may dictate surgical intervention, which can provide a highly successful long-term resolution by addressing the root cause of the pain. Advances in minimally invasive surgical techniques have enhanced the safety and effectiveness of these procedures, making surgery a trusted option for lasting relief.

Will Surgery Cure Your Neck & Arm Pain?

How Do I Talk to Dr. Johans?

When consulting with Dr. Johans, it's important to provide a detailed history of your symptoms:

  • Where is the pain in your arm?
  • Document when the pain started and what exacerbates or alleviates it.
  • Note the onset, frequency, and specific location of numbness or weakness, including affected fingers.
  • Discuss any changes in muscle strength and whether symptoms are improving or worsening.
  • Express concerns about potential nerve damage and the need for diagnostic imaging, like an MRI.

Whether through conservative measures or surgical intervention, addressing the root cause of pain with Dr. Johans is critical in restoring function and alleviating discomfort. He is dedicated to assisting patients through personalized care plans, ensuring they receive the appropriate treatment to improve their quality of life.

Contact Dr. Johans for Disc Replacement in Boise

If cervical disc replacement is a procedure you're considering, Dr. Johans is here to guide you every step of the way. His commitment is to provide personalized care that aligns with your lifestyle and health objectives.

Reach out directly at (208) 327-5621 or start your journey to recovery by completing our patient questionnaire. Together, we’ll explore the best treatment options for you and your lifestyle.

Patient Questionnaire

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