I’ll say it: Neck pain is certainly a real pain in the neck.. there’s a reason this phrase is commonly used to describe something annoying and frustrating. Our necks are fragile and very important.
Its no surprise the neck is quite vulnerable to pain and discomfort, so much can go wrong! The neck is responsible for supporting the head, which can weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. The bones of the neck are a small stack of seven bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are held in place by 32 complex muscles. The delicate spinal cord passes through the center of the vertebrae and is protected by the vertebrae. In the mid of vertebrae are pieces of cartilage called discs that act as absorbers of shock.
What’s worse is that this pain can manifest in many different ways. Some common types of pain symptoms are muscle spasms, muscle aches, headaches, even pain in the arms, legs and back.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are many causes of pain in the neck. Positions that are poor during daily activities; especially computer work will often result in fatigue causing chronic stiffness and pain. This pain is further excruciating especially when you move; it may come with headaches, stiffness, spasms of the muscles among other discomforts.
Whiplash is the name given to a painful or stressful neck movement. This may come about after a vehicle accident. This is where the person’s car suffers a hit from the rear. This will cause an usual disposition of the neck and head upon impact. This kind of injury has the full potential to strain muscles in your neck and cause the ligaments to tear or stretch unusually. People might fine that whiplash pain does not many times start immediately; it might be a few days before this happens. Pain and stiffness in the neck may come with spasms, feeling of dizziness, pain in nerves, headaches and even shoulder pain.
A herniated disc occurs when the outside layer of the cervical discs tears and the soft gelatinous center sticks outwards. Herniated discs will definitely put pressure on root nerves as they leave the spinal cord; causing pain in the back and neck as well as numbness and general weakness in the arms.
Several other conditions are known to cause severe neck pain such as cervical spondylosis as well as cervical spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. If your severe neck pain lasts more than 2 days you should see a doctor immediately for help diagnosing the cause because it could be serious.
Neck Pain Relief Options
If you have this kind of pain and are looking for relief, you have several options that have proven successful in relieving neck pain.
Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in the bones and joints in the back and neck. Their methods are quite similar to a massage, with more emphasis on movement of the joints and cartilage in the neck and spine.
Osteopathy is a school of medicine very similar to chiropractors and there is much overlap. An osteopath (doctor of osteopathy) will generally focus more on areas of the body other than the neck and spine such as respiratory system, arms and legs. There can be a lot of physical symptoms that manifest away from the neck and spine though the root of the pain is the neck and spine. Osteopathy aims to fix those problems.
Physiotherapy is the slow and controlled stretching and moving of damaged muscles and ligaments. Physiotherapy is a component of Chiropractic and osteopathic techniques. The stretching and movement should be done slowly and in a controlled and methodical manner so as not to aggravate the injury.
Prescription drugs are often used to lighten the pain associated with a neck injury. These can be oral, or topical (cream) or injected. A doctor should always be consulted when dealing with prescription drugs as there is a risk of serious side effects and over dosage.
Alternative treatments for neck pain include acupuncture, and various herbal remedies.
The most basic things you can do to relieve pain in your neck are:
- Rest and give your muscles a chance to recover.
- Use ice and heat alternatively in conjunction with gentle massage to relax then neck muscles.
- Relax! Mental and emotional stress can increase tension in the neck!
- Use good posture to avoid unnecessary stress on your neck and spine.
- Sleep on a rather firm mattress instead of a soft one
- Take frequent breaks and slowly stretch and rotate your neck.