Neck pain is a common medical condition that often causes patients frustration. Living with and managing neck pain can be difficult and even prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. While the good news is that neck pain does not often suggest a serious problem, it must still be addressed.
If you’re experiencing neck pain, keep reading to learn more. Whether your pain is from poor posture or tightness from looking down at a computer to more serious conditions, Carolinas Pain Center can help. With many treatment options available, you don’t need to live in pain! Our team helps patients with neck pain feel better in no time!
Types and Causes of Neck Pain
Whether you turned your head too quickly to answer a question or you were in a car accident, neck pain can have a variety of causes, depending on the location of the problem. For example, some neck pain can come from issues with the spinal cord, ligaments or cervical discs, cervical vertebrae, or the blood vessels, muscles, or nerves in the neck region.
Neck pain may also be due to trauma or whiplash, arthritis, nerve root irritation, poor posture, cervical herniated discs, or other medical conditions. Other common causes of neck pain include muscle spasms, osteoporosis, fractures, sprains or strains, and degenerative disc disease.
Some neck pain may be acute, meaning it is short-term pain that lasts less than four weeks. Other neck pain is considered subacute, which is pain that lasts up to 12 weeks. In addition, many chronic neck issues cause pain that lasts over three months.
Preventing Neck Pain
Prevention of neck pain is just as important as the treatment. When engaging in high-contact sports, use appropriate equipment to protect yourself. When driving, always wear a seat belt to prevent or reduce whiplash injury. If you work on a computer, it’s important to make sure the screen is at the correct height to protect against neck strains and muscle spasms.
Here are other ways to prevent neck pain:
- Practice good posture when sitting and standing.
- Take breaks from working at your computer or driving. Move around and stretch your neck.
- Don’t tuck your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking on it. Try a headset or use a speakerphone.
- Quit smoking.
- Don’t carry heavy bags with shoulder straps.
- Sleep in a comfortable position with your head and neck aligned with the rest of your body. Use a small pillow and sleep on your back to flatten the spinal muscles.
Depending on the source of the pain, neck pain can cause patients to have many uncomfortable symptoms. These include feelings of a stiff neck, where you feel it’s difficult to move or experience sharp pains when trying to move. Generalized neck soreness or headaches may also occur with your neck pain.
Some patients with neck pain also have pain that radiates along a nerve from the neck to the shoulder or arms. You may also have difficulty lifting or gripping objects.
How your doctor will choose to treat your neck pain will depend on the severity and type. First, non-surgical approaches may be deployed to help you in managing neck pain. Physical therapy may help as you learn exercises to strengthen the neck and correct postural issues. Heat, ice, or electrical stimulation may also be used in combination with physical therapy.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, often helps patients reduce their neck pain. Another type of targeted therapy uses traction to gently stretch the neck under the supervision of a doctor.
Several medications are also available to manage neck pain. If over-the-counter medications are not enough, your doctor may need to prescribe stronger medications. These medicines include muscle relaxants, tricyclic antidepressants, and more.
How a Doctor Can Help
If you’re living with neck pain, it is important that you see a doctor promptly. Remember, there are many approaches to managing neck pain beyond surgery. Your doctor can help you manage neck pain through other approaches first, such as steroid injections, medial branch blocks, epidural injections, and much more.
Tired of living with uncomfortable neck pain? Is your neck discomfort impacting your quality of life and ability to enjoy every day? If so, make an appointment today with Carolinas Pain Center to learn more about neck pain treatment. Our specialists use a multidisciplinary, individualized approach to manage neck pain in a way that works for your specific needs.