What is neck pain?
Neck pain can occur anywhere in your neck, from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. It can spread to your upper back or arms. It may limit how much you can move your head and neck.
Neck pain is very common.
What causes neck pain?
The roots of neck pain lie in our modern lifestyle. At the workplace, prolonged sitting and many hours of computer use can cause neck pain.
Neck pain can be caused by activities that strain the neck for e.g. slouching, . Neck pain is often associated with poor posture. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a sprain, or a spasm of the neck muscles.
Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. Whiplash from a car accident can cause neck pain.
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
You may feel a knot, stiffness, or severe pain in your neck. The pain may spread to your shoulders, upper back, or arms. You may get a headache. You may not be able to move or turn your head and neck easily. If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root , you might have pain that shoots down your arm. You may also have numbness, or weakness in your arm.
The neck is made up of joints, discs, ligaments and muscles. Any of these structures can be a source of pain, stiffness and loss of function.
How is neck pain diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check how well you can move your neck. He or she will also look for tenderness or numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or hands.
Imaging tests such as an X-ray, an MRI scan, or a CT scan can show the neck muscles and tissues. These tests may be done to check the neck bones, spinal discs, spinal nerve roots, and spinal cord.
Common features of neck pain include loss of range of motion, loss of strength, inability to sit for prolonged periods of time and headaches.
- Mechanical Neck Pain – often termed nonspecific pain, likely as a result of a muscle pain. poor posture may contribute to the pain, placing more load through the spine.
- Whiplash – sudden forward and backward motion / acceleration and deceleration of the neck causing damage to the surrounding ligaments and muscles. Commonly after a road traffic accident or a fall. Pain usually develops over 24-48 hours.
- Degenerative Cervical Spine / Degenerative Disc Disease / Cervical Spondylosis – wear and tear at the joints formed between the vertebrae in the neck.
- Cervical Radiculopathy – pressure on the nerve originating in the neck, causing tingling or numbness into one or both arms or hands.
Treatments for Neck Pain
The type of treatment you need will depend on the cause of your neck pain and also any medical condition.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine – To relieve the pain.
- Cortisone injection – To reduce the inflammation to the neck muscles.
- Physiotherapy – To relax your neck muscles and to relieve neck stress.
Surgery is rarely done to treat neck pain. But it may be done if your pain is caused by a medical problem, such as pressure on the spinal nerve roots, a tumor, or narrowing of the spinal canal.
When to See a Doctor For My Neck Pain?
- If pain persists longer than two weeks
- Increase in pain level
- Persisting restriction with activities of daily living
- Increase in intensity and area of numbness down the arm
- Worsening or persisting headaches
The Aim of the Treatment for Neck Pain include:
- Reduce pain and symptoms
- Increase strength
- Increase range of motion
- Improve posture
- Prevent further deterioration