Many of us face neck pain at some point of time - Most of
them are minor or self-curative though few neck pains are more serious. A
variety of causes including muscular tightness in both neck and upper back or
joint disruption, or pinching of nerves from the cervical vertebrate leads to
neck pain. A neck pain or Cervicalgia either causes a pain at the neck joint or
creates a feeling of stiffness, soreness or cramps in the neck.
Neck pain causes
The lower neck and upper back that supports the head are the common areas that are prone to neck pain. Most
of the movement of neck and head is because of the top three joints that make
the head firmly sit on the neck. An adverse affect on any of these joints
tightens the muscle in the area leading to a neck pain.
Injuries: The cervical vertebra that surrounds the spinal cord and
the canal is the supporting block of the spine in the neck. The vertebrae pass
through the nerves and discs of the neck. An injury to the bones or these joints through motor vehicle or
driving accidents or falls or sporting activities may cause neck pain.
The neck area also includes muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands,
esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Disease or an adverse condition of any of these
soft tissues may cause neck pain. Certain automobile collisions or road
accidents resulting in whiplash injury may cause neck pain.
Degenerative and Inflammatory Disease:
Most old people may face
neck pain due to degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid
arthritis. As people grow older, their joints also become weak resulting in
Neck pain may also result due to cervical disk
degeneration where the normal gelatin-like center of the disk that degenerates
and the vertebrae become narrow. Such damage becomes severe when extra stress
is applied to the joints. Few cases might also lead to herniated cervical disk
where the cervical disk may protrude and cause pressure on the spinal cord or
the nerve roots.
Other causes of neck pain might
include incorrect posture while sleeping or constant use of computer. Some rare
causes for neck pain include slipped disc, brittle bones (osteoporosis),
deformed natural curvature of the spine (scoliosis), tumors, infections or
congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.
Neck pain symptoms
Most neck pain is associated with dull aching that is felt when you move the neck. Following are few symptoms
associated with a neck pain.
numbness around the neck area
tingling, tenderness or shooting pain in the neck
stiffness in your neck muscles
dizziness or lightheadedness
radiation of neck pain to shoulders
radiation of neck pain into the back
radiation of neck pain into arms, hands and up to head
resulting in one-sided or double-sided headache
abnormal neck posture where the head is forced to turn
to one side (torticollis)
Few cases of neck pain may also result in meningitis. Seek immediate medical
attention if you have any of the following symptoms
a rash in the neck area that do not fade if pressed
with finger or object
neck pain that is associated with fever or illness with
if the light causes pain to your eyes
neck pains associated with severe headache or vomiting
neck pain associated with severe back pain
bending your neck forward.
Neck pain may also be a symptom of head
injury or disc trouble in the neck. Hence, if you have any of the following
symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
neck pain caused as a result of injury accompanied by
drowsiness or vomiting
neck pain accompanied by headache
neck pain along with pain behind one eye
if your vision, hearing, taste or balance is affected
associated with a neck pain
neck pain associated with reduced muscle powers in arms
Neck pain diagnosis
Upon your report of symptoms, the doctor might diagnose
the location of the pain and check for the intensity, duration, and radiation
of pain through various methods. The doctor examines the neck in both rest and
motion, detects the tenderness during palpation of the neck. In order to ensure
that no nerve involvement is present in the neck pain, the doctor might
prescribe you for an examination of nervous system. Based on your condition the
doctor or chiropractor might prescribe you for tests like X-ray, CAT scan, bone
scan, MRI scan, myelogram, and electrical tests like electromyography (EMG),
and nerve condition velocity test (NCV).
Neck pain relief
Most neck pains are effectively treated with rest, medication, immobilization, physical therapy, exercise, activity modifications, traction, heat/ice applications, soft collar, traction, local injections of
cortisone or anesthetics, topical anesthetic creams, topical pain patches, muscle relaxants and analgesics.
You can gain some neck pain relief by using the right pillow - one that provides cervical support to align your head and neck for sleeping. You can alternatively use a feather pillow and roll a small towel and tuck it in to support your neck. Ice packs or cold massage might help reduce inflammation, swelling and neck pain. For some, heat application through a heat pad or hot water bottle might give relief from neck pain.
Neck pain treatment
Medications - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or
analgesics like acetaminophen and other muscle relaxants such as orphenadrine,
tizanidine are often recommended for neck pains. Topical creams may be
prescribed in few cases of patients with neck pain.
Treatment Procedures - Neck pain that arises at the bottom of the
skull disappears without treatment. Whereas neck pain caused by inflammation is
treated with rest and neck collar for a short period. The doctor might also
prescribe some medications to reduce inflammation. Physical therapies such as mobilization or
manipulation are prescribed for chronic and acute neck pains.
Self-Help Techniques : You can also try few self-help techniques
like stretching and strength building exercise to ease neck pain. Neck pain is
often associated with the sitting posture of an individual. Forward stooped
posture interrupts or strains the normal cervical lordosis resulting in severe
back and neck pain.
Surgery: Surgery is the last
option for neck pain and is recommended in very rare cases where the pain is
developed due to the instability, cancer, severe spinal cord compression, and
failure to physical therapy after long months.
Surgery is not a choice for pinched nerves or herniated discs.
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