I used to get severe low back pain. Bad to the point that I could hardly stand.
I was prescribed a TENS unit and it worked great. It deadend the pain so I could function as normal as possible. I couldn't believe how well it helped. It's worth the shot and there were no ill effects from it. Good Luck.
I have a TENS unit at my house & I have used one for years. Mine works great!! Relieves the pain!! Have you thought about getting your neck X-Rayed? Could be some disk problems.
I have had all sorts of scans, but no x-rays done, I feel in Feb 2009 when I was pregnant and they never did any x-rays on me. I couldn't then and I guess they never have since then. I lost my job after I completed physical therapy so I never had anything to that affect.
You won't need x-rays if there has been an MRI. X-rays are inappropriate.
The "tens" units work well, while they are activated. The gell pads should be re-used and kept in a refrigerator when not in use to prolong their life.
There are two aspects to the tens that bear discussion. First, there are several settings. Consult your physician or therapist about the settings (there are several).
If you take the time, you can research and eventually make decisions about settings yourself.
Secondly, placement of the pads on the back are hard to do when you can't see. Some people make a magic marker on the spots (or have your therapist or physician do so) and have their spouse place them.
Use rubbing alcohol to clean the skin before placement. This will extend the life of the gell pads. They can add up to quite an expense.
The tens works because the body has difficulty in transmitting more than one pain signal. The small relatively painless electrical pulse from the unit is "sensed" as pain, and it overides the signal from the pinched nerve. This is the same way accupuncture works.
Placement of the pads is critical.
There are many philosophies involving placement. One practicioner uses a small tens attached to the earlobes. The body prioritizes and potential damage to the face as being life-threatening, and that takes precidence over pain emanating anywhere else. I am not suggesting you do this, but, if the tens does not work as well as you like, repositioning of the pads should be considered.
Pain in the neck and shoulders is often due to compression of a nerve in the cervical area and the appropriate treatment involves:
(1) Gentle axial traction for fifteen minutes or so every few hours. To start.
(2) An anti-inflammatory. Generally oral prednisone.
(3) Range of motion exercises through the limits of pain.
(4) DO NOT use a cervical collar. This causes degradtion and atrophy of the musculature. It is often inappropriately prescribed.
The axial traction devices are available without a prescription for from $35 ro $40 U.S.
Throw away the water bags and set the device up so when you sit on a chair in a doorway (attach the bar to a thick cup-hook into the beam above the door) you can genty lower yourself so you can feel moderate tension drawing your head upward along the axis of the spine.
Initially, fifteen minuites, then a two hour rest, then fifteen minuts, etc for about a week. Four to five times in the morning. Rest four to five times in the evening. You need to be on an anti-inflammatory medication while this is done for at least two weeks.
Keep well hydrated.
After a week, begin range of motion exercises, moving (rolling) your head 360 degrees through the limits of pain.
Eventually you may have to use the traction device two or three times a week.
Carry it with you when you travel.
Avoid riding on a hard bumpy seat (such as in a subway) and consider an inflatable cushion when you drive. The up-and-down motion agravates the problem.
Avoid high sugar meals. Lose weight. High glucose levels alter osmolality and cause pressure on the nerve.
The main rule is never to use the tens across the access to the heart. The pads should be relatively close and never on the chest crossing the heart. Or used simultaneously on both arms.
Properly used the tens works quite well for certain types of pain, particularly that of pinched nerves.
The liklihood is you have what is called a sub-luxion injury. This is not for certain, since I don't know your medical history, but the presentation is typical.
Seek a pain specialist with experience in subluxion (whiplash) injuries.