Neck pain can arise from a variety of causes such as muscle strains, nerve compressions, poor posture, and injuries.
Neck pain is a common condition. Reports suggest that more than two-thirds of people in the U.S. experience neck pain at some point in their life. The pain can be chronic and significantly affect the persons ability to perform routine activities. There are different signs and symptoms associated with this condition and proper evaluation and diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.
What causes the pain?
The neck is made up of bones, joints, vertebrae, ligaments, muscles, nerves and discs. The pain can occur due to disease and can involve any of the tissues in the neck. Generally, the pain develops in the small joints situated in the back of the vertebra. It can also arise due to certain disc-related conditions where the liquid-like central part of the disc works its way through cracks and tears in the outer part of the disk and compresses the nerves causing numbness/weakness in the arm.
Neck pain can occur due to various reasons:
Stressful work or home situations (that increase the tension in the neck muscles)
Sleeping in an awkward position
Improper body mechanics like poor posture or muscle strain
Changes to the normal condition of the joints and discs over time
Changes in neck alignment due to eye wear
Spinal cord injuries (usually after a fall or motor accident)
Neck pain can radiate to the shoulders, upper back or sometimes down the arm. Neck problems can also cause tension headaches that can travel up the back of the head and sometimes behind the eyes. Associated symptoms include numbness, tingling sensation, dizziness or lightheadedness.
Neck pain can occur gradually or quickly and in many cases, is difficult to be traced to a specific injury or cause. Though this is not a serious or life-threatening situation, proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial to the persons health and well-being.
The type of treatment administered may vary among patients and may depend on factors such as age, cause, severity of symptoms and location of the pain. Specialists at a multi-specialty healthcare center provide result-oriented treatment to help patients effectively manage the condition. Treatment modalities would include:
Physical therapy Therapeutic programs can reduce aches and muscle stiffness in the areas surrounding the neck. Physical therapy involves strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises that allow patients to improve their posture and range of motion.
Chiropractic care This treatment approach helps to alleviate severe pain, muscle spasms and correct the overall body posture and spinal alignment.
Massage therapy Generally performed by a trained physical or massage therapist, the therapy reduces muscle sprain and spasm that have occurred due to a neck injury.
Prescription medications Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, corticosteroids, and muscle relaxants are prescribed by physicians to reduce inflammation and muscle spasms associated with the condition.
Cervical epidural injections Injections placed in the epidural space can reduce inflammation and aches surrounding the irritated nerve.