Chronic Neck Pain
One of the most common complaints about pain that anybody can have is chronic neck pain. Poor posture while working in front of your computer or hunching over your phone while browsing the internet or more complex conditions like osteoarthritis can cause chronic neck pain.
Usually, the onset of neck pain may be a sign of more serious complications and ailments. Pain in the neck can be of varying intensity depending upon the cause of the pain. We will walk you through everything that you need to know about neck pain, symptoms, causes, treatment, and more.
Associated Symptoms of Severe Neck Pain
Many times it gets difficult to know whether neck pain is originating from your neck muscles, spinal issues, or something else. Therefore it’s usually best to analyze your symptoms, history, and pain levels to determine whether or not you need medical attention.
For instance, any pain that gets worse when you hold your head in one position for long time or in repetitive motions may be due to your neck muscles. This may be any activity such as working for long hours in front of your computer or driving a car. Apart from that you may feel a sensation of tightness around the neck and/or muscle spasms.
In some cases the range of motion of your head decreases. This means when swinging your head from left to right you are unable to move your head to the extreme end after a certain point it becomes painful.
Another symptom can be a persistent headache that refuses to subside even after conventional pain management medication. This may be due to a pinched nerve around your neck area. If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms it may be diagnosed as a pinched nerve and based on the severity of the problem you may have to pursue a doctor. But, how do you know if it’s serious enough for you to schedule a doctor’s appointment?
Let’s find out.
When Should I Visit a Doctor for Neck Pain?
Most pains in the neck gradually subside and heal with time. Some home treatments may also help and give you some neck pain relief. If however, the neck pain does not go away even after trying over the counter pain management methods and home treatments it may be best to consult your doctor.
If your neck pain is due to an injury that has resulted from a fall or a car accident you should see a doctor immediately. If you feel that your pain is very severe at times, the safe bet is seeing a professional and getting imaging tests done so you can see what’s going on.
Many times patients delay a doctor visit even when the pain has been persisting for quite some time without any relief. This can lead to serious issues later on if the pain is due to degenerative disc disease, or another kind of spinal neck issues, which is why its advisable to get checked out early on.
In some other cases, as we pointed out earlier, the range of motion of your head decreases drastically and you are not able to freely move your head from left to right and vice versa or up and down or rotate freely. Also if the pain is radiating from the neck and stretches downwards towards your arms it means it needs medical attention, because that could be a herniated disc pressing on your spinal nerves. With proper treatment by a professional the degeneration can be slowed and possibly stopped, while also resolving neck pain issues.
Neck Pain and Headaches
If the pain in your neck is accompanied by other issues such as headaches, weakness, numbness, and tingling in your hands and legs, it is time to see a doctor. Sooner is better. Delaying to seek medical advice in extreme cases can lead to other serious problems that could have been otherwise avoided if treated and attended to on time. Tingling in the hands coupled with neck pain can get worse over time, possibly eventually leading to weakness in the hands and the inability to perform accurate motions with the hands such as buttoning a shirt. This is due to your spinal nerves being physically damaged.
Causes of Neck Pain
Now that we have seen the symptoms that may be due to neck pain and an overview of some causes as well, let us look at the causes of neck pain in a little more detail. So, what causes neck pain? Listed below are some of the most common known causes of neck pain:
- NECK MUSCLE STRAINS – If you are someone who is working on your computer for long hours or using your smartphone continuously for too many hours, your muscles may get overused and can lead to straining of the muscles or stiff muscles. At times even less tiring things such as reading in your bed for long hours or gritting of teeth can lead to neck muscle strains.
- WORN OUT JOINTS – With age the neck joints may get worn out just like all other joints in the body. Osteoarthritis can cause your bones to form spurs that can impact the joint motion and can lead to nerve pain.
- COMPRESSED NERVES – Herniated discs or bone spurs in your bone can cause the bones in your neck to compress the nerves from the spinal cord that may lead to pain and more symptoms.
- NECK INJURIES – In most automobile accidents involving rear-end direct impact or collision, you may end up getting a whiplash injury. This injury occurs when your head is moved backward and forward in quick succession in the form of sudden jerks leading to strain to the soft tissues of the neck. Any other sort of injury to the neck may also lead to chronic pain of the neck because of compressed spinal discs.
- DISEASES – There are certain diseases such as cancer, meningitis, and rheumatoid arthritis, that can lead to severe neck pain.
Apart from these, there can be various other causes as well such as improper sleeping and sitting postures, that can lead to a pain in the neck.
How to Relieve Neck Pain
Neck pain can be avoided in many ways. Simple changes in daily routine or habits that can help you prevent and relieve neck pain.
To begin with, maintain a good sitting, standing, sleeping, and walking posture. Your shoulders must be straight aligned just over your hips and your ears must be directly just over your shoulders.
When you are traveling for long hours and riding/driving long distances be sure to take frequent breaks. Even if you are sitting in one place working for long hours be sure to stop and move around a bit.
Make small adjustments to your workstation. Adjust your work desk, computer, and chair in such a way that the monitor is at the level of your eye. Find ways to prove the ergonomics of your desk area such as ergonomic chairs, or standing desks.
Text Neck Problems
Texting is something everyone does, and some people text for long periods of time, or text, then watch videos, then read news all on their phone. You might start feeling pains in your neck if you do this day after day without stretching or breaks. Also avoid the practice of tucking your phone between your ear and your shoulder while talking. This is a widely observed habit that isn’t good for neck pain. Start using the phone speaker, or headphones instead.
If you are a smoker, quit as soon as you can. Smoking puts you at a very high risk of developing neck pain along with many other health issues. So quitting smoking can really help your health in more ways than you’d think.
Lastly, while sleeping make sure your head and neck are aligned to your body. Use a small pillow beneath your neck to assist with alignment. Try sleeping with your back on the bed with a pillow beneath the thighs. This will flatten and naturally align the spine causing less strain.
Now that you have all the information you need to deal with your neck pain you will be able to better assess your condition and take the necessary steps to feel better. If you find that your pain is severe, make sure to seek immediate medical attention as soon as you can.
If you are however still at a phase where you have not experienced neck pain, make use of this comprehensive article to know how to prevent/avoid getting a sprained neck or neck pain. As any kind of pain, of course, is better prevented than cured.