Neck pain is a very common medical condition. In most cases, neck pain results from muscle strain and should not cause alarm. However, severe neck pain may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that requires emergency treatment. Below are the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for neck pain.
What Is Neck Pain?
Simply put, you have neck pain any time your neck hurts. Typically, the neck has bones, ligaments, and muscles that hold the head in position and facilitates motion. In case of an injury, strain, or inflammation on any of these three parts, one experiences neck pain. Mostly, the pain is mild and temporal, lasting for few days.
The following are the major symptoms of neck pain:
- Headaches, facial pain, and shoulder pain
- Pain holding the neck in one place
- Tight muscles and spasms
- Pain and strain moving the head
- Difficulty in swallowing
Causes of Neck Pain
There are multiple causes of neck pain, including injuries and underlying medical conditions. Largely, neck pain results from muscle strain such as bad sitting or sleeping positions, repetitive motions, or carrying heavy items. Then the neck joints may begin to wear out with age, which affects movement and causes pain. Also, any form of injuries around the neck will lead to pain, for instance, an injury that sends the head jerking backward and forward, such as a car accident or sports injury. Lastly, neck pain can be a symptom of infections or diseases like meningitis, cancer, or arthritis.
Treatment for Neck Pain
The neck needs urgent medical care when the pain is severe, persistent, spreads down the arms, and causes numbness, nausea, and dizziness. Neck pain physicians include general doctors, orthopedists, chiropractors, rheumatologists, and physical therapists. Typically, the doctors will conduct a diagnosis that includes your medical and physical history, physical examination, X-ray, MRI, or CT scans.
Preventive care: Preventing neck pain involves avoiding triggers. For instance, maintain a good posture by adjusting the chair and desktop to level your eyes with the computer monitor. Also, avoid tucking the phone between ear and shoulder or carrying heavy bags. Besides, sleep on your back or side rather than your belly and use a soft pillow.
Treatment: Medical neck treatment may include injections and surgery for severe pain. Then, mild pain is cured using over-the-counter and prescription painkillers. Also, the physician can recommend the use of ice packs or moist heat to relieve swelling and alleviate pain. In addition, physical therapy and neck massage help in muscle relaxation and pain relief.
Your neck plays an important role as the vertebrae that connects the head and body torso. Should you experience neck pain, ensure you get the necessary treatment, including seeking medical consultation.