Neck Pain

If you fear surgery is the only solution to your neck pain, explore the possibilities of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Carlos Esparza’s MD practice in Albuquerque, NM focuses on non-surgical means to heal your neck pain.

About neCK PAIN

Neck Pain

Your neck (cervical spine) consists of seven vertebrae that begin at the base of your skull (C1) and ends at the chest area, also known as the thoracic spine (C7.)

Your vertebrae are connected by facet joints that allow your neck to move back and forth and to rotate side to side. Between the vertebrae are six discs, which are tough, liquid-filled cushions that allow for smooth, flexible motion. Encased within the bony structures of the vertebrae are the spinal cord and nerves that send signals from the brain to the entire body.

Most of the time neck surgery is not the answer

Any of these structures, in addition to muscles and ligaments that support them, can become injured or damaged, causing inflammation and pain. This can reduce your freedom of movement and your ability to function fully. Spine and pain specialist, Dr. Esparza MD works to relieve pain and restore function to your neck (cervical spine) without surgery.

Why does my neck hurt?

A healthy neck has more mobility than the rest of your back, allowing your head to rotate and move up and down, side to side. When you lose that mobility because of pain or stiffness or when pain interrupts your sleep, it strongly impacts your quality of life.

 Pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility in your neck (cervical spine) can also cause a lot of anxiety. The neck carries the weight of the head, (about 11 pounds,) and stability in this area is vital to protect the sensitive cervical spine, where all of the nerve signals between your brain and your body are relayed.

Dr. Esparza MD can help you understand your condition, reducing your anxiety. He will offer you non- or minimally invasive ways to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

Neck pain causes

  • A sudden injury such as whiplash from a car accident

  • Degenerative conditions such as arthritis

  • Natural age-related processes that cause changes in your disc, cartilage, or bone Congenital (from birth) conditions

  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking or sleeping on your stomach

  • Inflammation of the nerve root or other structures such as the facet joint

  • Pinching (impingement) of cervical discs 

Can your habits cause neck pain?

Yes! Many of our lifestyle choices impact on neck health.

One condition that we see now more than ever can be blamed on texting. Called “text neck overuse syndrome,” it is pain caused by hours of looking down at a computer or a mobile phone. To prevent this condition use good ergonomics when you’re working at the computer by raising the screen so you aren’t always looking down at it. If possible, keep your phone at eye level when texting. Take frequent breaks to raise your head and stretch your back and neck.


Neck pain treatments

Neck pain treatments

Neck exercises including stretching and strengthening to increase flexibility and improve posture are often first-line treatments for neck pain. Dr. Esparza will prescribe the appropriate rehabilitation exercises and might also recommend cardiovascular conditioning (“cardio training” such as exercising on an elliptical machine or stationary bike,) to improve your overall health and fitness. Getting more oxygen-rich blood to your neck and back is vital for healing.

Physical Therapy

Your exercise regime might be supervised by one of our physical therapists who often begins with heat or cold treatments, ultrasound or electrical stimulation, deep-tissue or trigger-point massage. The therapist will also show you ways you can improve your posture and biomechanics and give you stretches and possibly gentle exercises you can do on your own.

Epidural Steroid Interlaminar Injections (ESI)

Epidural Steroid Interlaminar Injections (ESI) are used to calm inflammation and reduce pain so that you can take part in a rehabilitation program to improve your neck health. If Dr. Esparza determines that you are a good candidate for an Epidural Steroid Injection he will give you information and answer all your questions. The procedure is performed in the office and there is very little discomfort except some tenderness at the injection site.


In an ESI (Epidural Steroid Interlaminar Injection) a steroid is injected into the epidural space around the irritated nerves in your neck. The injection calms the inflammation and reduces pain. It takes 2-7 days to feel the full effects and how long they last depends on each patient. Side effects are few and rare. The goal is to reduce your pain enough so that you can make progress in your rehab program.

Cervical Selective Nerve Root

Cervical Selective Nerve Root block is prescribed when Dr. Esparza suspects that your pain is caused by an irritated nerve root in your neck. The irritation might be caused by compression or impingement (“pinching”) of the nerve from degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis or other conditions. This procedure lets the doctor identify the cause of your neck pain and can also alleviate inflammation and pain.

Cervical Facet Joint injections

Cervical Facet Joint injections can alleviate pain caused by damage to the facet joints which are small joints between the vertebrae on the back of the spine. When they are healthy, the facet joints limit friction, support the spine and provide stability and flexibility. If they are inflamed you might experience pain when you bend, twist or flex your neck. Facet joint injections can accompany physical therapy, making it possible for you to strengthen the muscles around the weakened joints.

Medial Branch Nerve Blocks

Medial Branch Nerve Blocks are used to determine whether your pain is caused by the facet joints of the spine. If the facet joints are inflamed, the medial branch nerves will relay pain signals to the brain. During this procedure the doctor will use contrast dye and X-ray guidance to see if the facet joints are causing your back pain. From here, Dr. Esparza can make the best decision about your treatment.

PRP Injections (Platelet Rich Plasma)

PRP Injections (Platelet Rich Plasma) is a process where a very small amount of your blood is drawn right before your procedure. It is spun in a centrifuge to concentrates the platelets in your blood. The product that results is rich in growth factors that have been shown to enhance the body’s natural healing process. PRP is safe and has been used to treat a variety of conditions for many years, (even cosmetic and procedures involving the eye!) Some advantages of PRP for neck and back conditions include faster healing, tissue repair, and even bone regeneration. By using your own blood you reduce the chance of blood-born infection and bring out your own natural healing abilities to treat your condition. Ask Dr. Esparza if this “cutting edge” technology is right for you.

Trigger Point Injections

Trigger Point Injections The neck is a common site for trigger point injections because the upper back and shoulders are often places where muscles can “knot” or spasm. Trigger points can be sore to the touch and can sometimes be felt as knots under the skin. The pain from these knots can be long-lasting and can radiate, causing pain in the extremities.

Trigger point injections involve injecting medication directly into a knot of muscles to reduce pain and inflammation.

Get in Touch

If you have pain, there is hope for relief. Contact Dr. Carlos Esparza’s MD Office today for an appointment. Most major Insurances and Workers’ Compensation of New Mexico accepted call us at 505-242-1711 and speak with our scheduler for more information



3846 Masthead St. NE Albuquerque, NM 87109