Neck Pain UK: How to Access Private Neck Treatments

In the UK approximately one third of men and women experience regular spinal pain, this includes pain in the lumbar region (lower back) and cervical region (neck). Whilst back pain is not a new complaint to the UK, neck pain is a growing concern in our population and it is on the rise. Interestingly, neck pain is almost twice as likely in women than it is in men. Recurrent neck pain can be associated with many different, and often multiple causes, which is why it’s always a good idea to have this looked at by a specialist.

Our expert of choice for this topic is Mr Sanj Bassi, Consultant Neurosurgeon at the London Neurosurgery Partnership (LNP), part of HCA Healthcare UK. We asked Mr Bassi exactly what happens when a patient with persistent neck pain comes to see him at his clinic.


Q&A with Mr Sanj Bassi:

Mr Bassi, can you explain how patients with neck pain are referred to LNP?

There are three routes by which a patient can be referred. By GP referral, through private healthcare insurance or by simply calling our team directly. At LNP we work as a close-knit group of 11 consultants which means that we can usually offer our patients an appointment the same day or the next working day. We have clinics across London and the South East, including Chiswick Medical Centre, which makes our services easily accessible for all patients.

When a patient comes to see you in clinic what can they expect?

When a patient arrives at the clinic they will be greeted by one of the HCA UK team at reception before coming into one of the consultation rooms. An initial consultation lasts approximately thirty minutes, depending on the complexity of the case it may take longer. I use this time to get to know the patient, gain an understanding of why they are here and discuss their symptoms and medical history. By the end of the consultation I aim to have a complete picture of what is going on, then work with the patient to form a plan for any tests and potential treatment options if required.

What sort of questions will you ask your patients?

Some of the questions we would ask a patient presenting with neck pain would include;

  • Where is the pain located and does it radiate?
  • What type of pain is it and how long does it last?
  • What are the aggravating or relieving factors?
  • Are you getting any pain down your arms or fingers?

Then we would look to ascertain whether there is any impact on neurological function. To assess this, I would ask if the patient has had any problems with dexterity, if day-to-day tasks have become difficult or interrupted their sleep, and if their bladder and bowel function has changed.

What are the treatment options?

Some patients may not require any treatment, we can reassure them that neck pain in some cases can cure itself within a couple of weeks. In the interim, pain relief may be prescribed or physical therapies can be recommended to help relieve the neck pain. If neck pain persists over several weeks into months we may recommend steroid injections which will provide pain relief for up to three months. We also use radio frequency ablation and this disrupts the pain pathway for six to twelve months. A very last resort for treatment would be decompression surgery, which is used to treat compressed nerves in the lower spine. The choice of treatment is based on the severity of symptoms and how these affect day-to-day life for the patient.

What are the symptoms of neck pain?

  1. Stiff neck
  2. General soreness
  3. Numbness, tingling or weakness
  4. Dizziness and blackouts
  5. Headache
  6. Sharp pain

The most obvious symptom is the neck pain itself; this pain may accumulate and persist over a period of a few days to a week and cause headaches. Patients may also have reduced mobility of their head; you can assess this yourself by moving your head from side to side and up and down and monitor any decline in movement. It is important to seek immediate help if the pain travels down the limbs and if this causes any weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities.

What are some of the common causes of neck pain?

We often see patients that experience neck pain as a result of working at a desk and hunching over a computer or due to a trauma from a trip, fall or accident. Other causes include joint wear and tear, nerve compression and diseases, for example osteoarthritis. Less commonly, neck pain can be the result of something more sinister which is why it is important to have your symptoms investigated.

Patient neck pain testimonial

“Before I saw the LNP team, I had neck pain and the pain was radiating down my arms. I had lost a lot of my dexterity, I had constant pins and needles in my fingers, I couldn’t open a jam jar or take my dog for a walk without causing great pain.

I was referred to LNP by my GP using my private medical insurance. In the initial consultation I was impressed with how the consultant carried out a thorough assessment. I felt that he really wanted to get to know me and understand how this pain was impacting my day-to-day life. His main priority was to ensure that I got back to normal. Straight after the consultation I had an MRI and they found the cause of my neck pain – a disc bulge which meant the nerves leading to my arms were compressed. Three days later I had surgery to replace a disc with a spacer to relieve the compression. Straight after the surgery there was a noticeable improvement in my dexterity. Overall the whole process from initial consultation to discharge took one week, and after a couple of days rest I was back taking my dog back out for walks, without the pain!”

If you are suffering from neck pain or know someone who is then you can contact the London Neurosurgery Partnership, call 020 8131 6232

  1. Prevalence and Predictors of Intense, Chronic, and Disabling Neck and Back Pain in the UK General Population Roger Webb, MA,* Therese Brammah, MD,† Mark Lunt, MSc,* Michelle Urwin, MSc,*‡ Tim Allison, MD,‡ and Deborah Symmons, MD*
  2. Fejer R., Kyvik K.O., Hartvigsen J. The prevalence of neck pain in the world population: a systematic critical review of the literature. Eur Spine J. 2006;15:834–848.