Common Causes Of Neck Pain And How To Find Relief
Neck pain is very common and can be caused by a variety of things including neck strain, neck injury, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, or common infections.
The neck is comprised of seven vertebrae or tiny building blocks that make up the spine up through the neck and surround the spinal cord and canal. Discs and nerves pass between each vertebra. The neck also includes muscles, arteries, lymph nodes, veins, thyroid gland, esophagus, trachea, larynx, parathyroid glands and skin. With so many different elements making up the neck it’s no wonder neck pain is so common.
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
The most common cause of neck pain is strain or tension placed on muscles. There are many everyday activities that cause this sort of injury, such as:
-Poor posture, even while watching TV or reading a book.
-Sitting hunched over a desk or computer for hours on end each day. If your computer monitor is positioned too high or too low it makes matters worse.
-Sleeping with your neck turned in an uncomfortable position.
-Twisting your neck too quickly.
More severe neck pain may be attributed to a fall or other physical accident. As a result you may suffer from vertebral fractures, blood vessel injury, whiplash or paralysis.
Other causes of neck pain include:
-Osteoporosis, which may cause small fractures to the spine
-Discitis, osteomyelitis, abscess or other type of infection to the spine.
-Cancer of the spine
How To Relieve Neck Pain
Mild to moderate neck pain can usually be treated at home. It’s best to consult with a doctor first in order to determine the cause of pain, what sort of physical activity you should do and if there are any medicines to help reduce discomfort and expedite your recovery.
For minor neck pain try:
-Applying heat or ice to the area. Never leave heat or ice on the same spot for more than 15 minutes at one time. Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, followed by heat after that.
-Take a warm shower or bath.
-Take a break from normal physical activity for the first few days of your injury in order to reduce inflammation and give the body some time to heal.
-Slowly and gently stretch your neck, for instance turn your head side to side, ear to ear and up and down.
-Have someone gently massage tender areas to relieve stiff or knotted muscles.
-Try sleeping with a special neck pillow.
-A doctor may offer you a soft neck collar to help reduce pain. You do not want to wear this for prolonged periods of time in order to avoid weakening of neck muscles.
-Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil, ibuprofen, or Tylenol.
How To Diagnose Neck Pain
In order to properly diagnose neck pain you’ll need to visit a doctor who will properly review your history of symptoms and injuries. The exact location and intensity of pain are also important factors in determining the cause.
Is pain worse or better if you turn and move your neck around? Your neck will be monitored in both resting and active positions. Your nervous system may also be evaluated in order to identity if nerves are to blame.
If a basic physical exam does not turn up anything noteworthy, further testing may be necessary. Common tests used to identify the cause of neck pain include:
-Electrical tests, such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity test (NCV)
Signs Your Neck Pain Needs Urgent Medical Attention
-Your symptoms remain for more than 1-week with at-home self-care.
-Your neck pain is accompanied by numbness, weakness or tingling in your arm or hand.
-Your glands or lymph nodes are swollen.
-You cannot reduce discomfort with over-the-counter medications.
-The pain worsens when you lie down or is severe enough to wake you up throughout the night.
-If your neck pain was the direct result of a fall or injury of some sort. If you are unable to move your arm or hand call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital immediately.
-Your neck is so stiff you are unable to touch your chin down to your chest. This is especially dangerous if neck pain is accompanied by fever and headache. If this is the case you should call 911 or have someone drive you to the hospital immediately.
Why wait for your doctor to pencil you in? You can visit Urgent Medical Center right now for fast treatment, diagnoses and relief! Walk-ins are always welcome or you can schedule your appointment online to reduce wait times.