Understanding Neck Pain in Singapore: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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The neck is a crucial part of our spine that supports the weight of our head while allowing for a good amount of movement. Even so, it’s also quite susceptible to injuries and issues that can lead to pain and limit our ability to move comfortably. While some people might just go through a phase of temporary neck pain that eventually goes away on its own, others might need some professional help to deal with their chronic pain or discomfort. That’s where orthopaedic surgeons come in – they’re the specialists when it comes to identifying and treating problems with our muscles and bones, including those that affect the neck.

Orthopaedic surgeons have a range of techniques up their sleeves to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. These could include things like physical therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes even surgery. But hey, let’s not jump the gun on surgery; it’s usually considered when everything else has been tried and hasn’t worked out. So, if you find yourself dealing with persistent neck pain or other symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, it’s a good idea to reach out to an orthopaedic surgeon for some guidance and assistance.


The Role of an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Treating Neck Pain

Neck pain can happen for all sorts of reasons, and the diagnosis can be tricky. That’s why it’s a smart move to talk to an orthopaedic surgeon if you’ve got neck pain that just won’t go away. Chronic neck pain which lasts for months at a time, may be a sign of an underlying condition. These are some reasons why you should consult an orthopaedic surgeon:

  • Many things can make your neck hurt, like strained muscles, arthritis, or issues with the bones in your spine. Each of these needs a different kind of treatment, and an experienced orthopaedic surgeon can figure out what’s causing your pain.
  • Trying to play doctor with yourself can be risky. You might end up treating the wrong thing or waiting too long to get the right help. That could make things worse, which leads to more pain or disruptions to your daily life.
  • Getting help from an orthopaedic surgeon early on can stop things from getting worse and give you a better shot at feeling better soon. Delaying treatment might mean you’ll have to deal with neck pain for a long time.


The Causes of Neck Pain: Injurious and Non-injurious Sources

The causes of neck pain fall into two main categories: injurious and non-injurious causes. Injuries often come from accidents like falls or car crashes. These accidents can lead to neck pain either right away or later on, depending on the severity of the accident and the patient’s condition.

Now, let’s delve into the non-injurious sources of neck pain, which often has a lot to do with our work setups. Many workplaces use a kind of one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to setting up our desks and chairs. This can be a real pain in the neck, literally. Sometimes, we’re stuck with computer screens and chairs that just won’t budge or can’t be adjusted enough. That means we end up sitting in strange positions that put extra strain on our necks.

If you already have an underlying neck issue, well, things can get even trickier. Any trouble in your neck can make it less stable, and your body tries to make up for it by overworking neck muscles. Over time, these muscles can get tired out, and they can’t compensate anymore. That’s when you start feeling real neck pain, and it might bring along some other symptoms too. Now, when it comes to neck pain, it usually has three main sources:

  • Muscular pain – This is when you overwork your neck muscles, leading to aching and cramping sensations. It’s not just your neck; this pain can spread to your shoulders and upper back.
  • Discal pain – The intervertebral discs between your spine column can cause trouble too. If they get a tear on these discs, you may feel sharp pain. It may also lead to the protrusion of the disc, which may worsen your current condition.
  • Facet joint pain – Your spine has these joints called facet joints, which provide stability. If they wear down over time, they can be a source of neck pain too.


So, in a nutshell, neck pain can happen for all sorts of reasons, from accidents to unhealthy work setups, and it usually comes from these three sources: muscle strain, disc issues, or problems with facet joints. Orthopaedic surgeons utilize different methods to diagnose the specific cause of your neck pain. If you experience the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention:

  • Shooting pain down the arms – This happens when nerves in the neck get pinched, causing sharp, electric-like pain shooting down the arms, often triggered by specific neck positions. This is called radicular pain.
  • Arm or hand numbness and weakness – Pinched nerves not only cause pain but also affect sensation (numbness) and the ability to move your arms and hands (weakness). Any nerve compression in the spine can result in numbness and weakness.
  • Tingling, burning, or crawling sensations – Nerve pinching within the spinal canal can create unusual sensations like tingling, burning, or a feeling of insects crawling on the skin. This condition is known as paraesthesia.
  • Spinal cord pressure – Severe narrowing of the cervical spinal canal can put significant pressure on the spinal cord, leading to a condition called myelomalacia. This may also increase the risk of injury from falls, known as central cord syndrome.
  • Loss of coordination – Spinal cord softening can result in the loss of coordination in the hands, making it challenging to manipulate small objects. In some cultures, this might affect the ability to use chopsticks or handle sewing needles/buttons.
  • Unsteadiness when walking – In severe cases, neck-related issues can lead to unsteadiness while walking, increasing the risk of falls and injuries. This condition is known as myelopathy and can affect both upper and lower limbs.

In essence, neck pain can cause various symptoms, depending on the underlying issues, including pain, numbness, weakness, unusual sensations, and even difficulties with coordination and mobility. It is also important to note that neck pain can also be a symptom of many other health conditions, like gallbladder issues, meningitis, and cancer. To diagnose and rule out any conditions, you will undergo diagnostic tests.


Diagnosis and Treatment for Neck Pain in Singapore: Finding the Right Orthopaedic Specialist

At The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice, the orthopaedic surgeon, with the help of a team, initiates the process with a comprehensive medical interview to understand the patient’s neck pain symptoms and potential causes. Following this, a focused examination of the neck and related areas is conducted to identify any signs of neck issues.

After that, you might be asked to have some cervical spine X-rays or an MRI scan to get a better idea of what’s causing your neck pain. With this information in hand, the orthopaedic surgeon will talk to you about their findings. Together, you can discuss your treatment options. Each patient will have a treatment plan because this plan always depends on the severity of the pain and the condition of the patient.

The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice offers a variety of treatments for patients with neck pain. These are all geared to alleviate your symptoms so you can live your life to the fullest. These are some treatments for neck pain:

  • Medications to ease the pain and discomfort around your neck, shoulders, and arms.
  • Lifestyle changes and advice so you can manage your condition better.
  • Physiotherapy sessions to improve your mobility and function.
  • Pain procedures to target the exact cause of your neck pain.
  • Surgery to release pinched nerves and improve the cervical spine.

It’s worth noting that not all neck pain requires immediate medical attention. Sometimes, it gets better on its own, and you can manage it at home. However, if your neck pain starts affecting your daily activities, it’s a good idea to reach out for help. An orthopaedic surgeon is the right person to see. They can figure out what’s causing the problem and create a treatment plan that suits you personally. Your comfort and well-being are what matters most.


What are some reasons to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for neck pain?

Consulting an orthopaedic surgeon is crucial if you have neck pain because they can accurately diagnose the underlying cause, which could be muscle strain, disc issues, or facet joint problems. They also ensure you receive appropriate and timely treatment to prevent the pain from worsening.

What are the two main categories of causes for neck pain?

The two main categories of neck pain causes are injurious and non-injurious sources. Injuries can result from accidents, while non-injurious causes often stem from poor workplace ergonomics or pre-existing neck issues.

What are some common symptoms associated with neck pain?

Common symptoms of neck pain can include shooting pain down the arms, arm or hand numbness and weakness, tingling sensations, spinal cord pressure, loss of coordination, and unsteadiness when walking. These symptoms can vary depending on the underlying issue.

What diagnostic tests are mentioned in the article for diagnosing neck pain?

You may undergo medical interviews, cervical spine X-rays, and MRI scans as diagnostic tests to gain a better understanding of the causes of neck pain.

What are some of the treatment options available for neck pain at The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice in Singapore?

Treatment options for neck pain at The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice include medications to alleviate pain, lifestyle changes and advice for better management, physiotherapy sessions to improve mobility and function, pain procedures to target the root cause, and surgery to release pinched nerves and address cervical spine issues. The specific treatment plan depends on the severity of the pain and the patient’s condition.


  1. https://www.theorthopaedicandpainpractice.com/service/neck-pain/
  2. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/why-does-my-neck-hurt
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain-and-stiff-neck/
  4. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/neck-pain

Dr Yong Ren’s Profile

Dr. Yong Ren graduated from the National University of Singapore’s Medical faculty and embarked on his orthopaedic career soon after. Upon completion of his training locally, he served briefly as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital before embarking on sub-speciality training in Switzerland at the famed Inselspital in Bern.

He underwent sub-specialty training in pelvic and spinal surgery, and upon his return to Singapore served as head of the orthopaedic trauma team till 2019. He continues to serve as a Visiting Consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Well-versed in a variety of orthopaedic surgeries, he also served as a member of the country council for the local branch of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (Trauma) in Singapore. He was also involved in the training of many of the young doctors in Singapore and was appointed as an Assistant Professor by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Before he entered the private sector, he also served as core faculty for orthopaedic resident training by the National Healthcare Group.

Dr. Yong Ren brings to the table his years of experience as a teacher and trainer in orthopaedic surgery. With his expertise in minimally invasive fracture surgery, pelvic reconstructive surgery, hip and knee surgery as well and spinal surgery, he is uniquely equipped with the tools and expertise necessary to help you on your road to recovery.

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Sarah Taylor

Obstetrics & Gynaecology