At one point in their lives, about 66 percent of people will suffer from neck pain. It is one of the most common pain problems experienced. The pain can range from mild and quick to heal, to severe and requiring medication and/or therapy. Even though the pain is limited to the neck region the causes can arise from other regions of the body and in particular, the spinal area. Treatment for neck pain is determined based on severity of the pain, its causes, frequency of occurrence and personal preferences.
Causes of Neck Pain
This is a sudden movement of the neck backwards and then forwards. It is commonly experienced during vehicle accidents but can also result from other situations such as physical abuse. The strain experienced by muscle ligaments can leave the neck with considerable pain. Symptoms of whiplash include neck stiffness, dizziness, blurred vision, irritability and a constant ringing in the ears. The suffering is such that a whole industry has sprung up, where lawyers pursue whiplash claims on behalf of victims of this affliction.
This is a condition that can cause very severe pain in the neck. The neck takes on a twisted posture where the whole head becomes tilted. Wry neck can be gotten genetically or can also be caused by serious neck injury. Symptoms include neck stiffness, frequent headaches, difficulty in moving the head and swollen cheek muscles.
Migraines are frequently occurring headaches where the pain is usually limited to one side of the head. Due to the sharp pain and sensitivity to light and sound one may place the neck in a wrong position especially when sleeping. This can cause neck pain.
An inflammatory disease that often affects the neck, thighs, hips and the shoulders. When it occurs it results in pain and stiffness of the affected body part. Symptoms include low appetite, anemia, fever, depression and reduced range of motion.
As one ages, the bone and cartilage in the neck undergoes wear and tear. This results in old age neck pain. Other causes include injury, smoking, genetics and being overweight. Some of the symptoms to watch out for are pain in the shoulder, muscle weakness, headaches, neck stiffness and numbness in the arms and shoulders.
Treatment of Neck Pain
Neck pain due to common issues such as sleeping bad positions and low risk neck injuries usually disappears on its own. For more serious cases however, it is crucial that medical help be sought. The diagnosis will be performed through various techniques including x-ray, CT scan and MRI. After this, any one or a combination of the following treatments will be recommended.
In this form of therapy, the focus is on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. It is used in managing pain in joints, bones and muscles. Thus it is highly beneficial in reducing neck pain. One of the most common forms of chiropractic treatments is the application of deliberate force on the neck to stimulate nerves and muscle tissues. Over time, neck motion improves and the pain recedes.
Osteopathic medicine works to strengthen the body’s musculoskeletal system. Using techniques such as joint mobilization, deep tactile pressure and soft tissue stretching a neck pain patient can greatly benefit from this therapy.
Physical therapy or physiotherapy applies a wide range of treatment methods to maximize the range of body movement and thus reduce pain and inflammation. These treatment techniques include massage, exercise and electro-physical stimulation. Physiotherapy comes in handy in cases where the neck pain is either persistent or occurs frequently.
Prescription medicines are usually recommended in addition to therapy. Some of the most common medication prescribed include muscle relaxants, antibiotics if there is an infection, corticosteroids and pain medication.
Other medical treatments commonly used include ice and heat therapy, use of a neck collar and traction. In other cases over the counter patches and topical creams can treat mild neck pain.
In very serious situations, surgery becomes the last option for treating neck pain. Surgery is commonly recommended if the cause of the pain is a disease e.g. cancer, disability or a compressed spine.
You can also try some home remedies for non-serious neck pain. Try techniques like stretching your neck, using a heating pad, taking a hot shower, a self neck massage and sleeping on pillow designed to reduce neck strain.