Neck pain, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment(Ver en español)

A prevalent complaint is neck pain that can be because of bad posture or straining of the neck muscles due to hunting over your workbench or leaning over your laptop. Another common cause of neck pain is osteoarthritis.

Neck pain can rarely be a sign or symptom of a more severe issue. Seek medical care if numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands accompanies your neck pain or if you have shooting pain in your arm or shoulder.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of neck pain include:

  • Pain that’s get worse by holding your head in a static position for long periods, such as when working at a computer or driving
  • Headache
  • Muscle tightness and spasms
  • Decreased ability to move your head

Causes

Your neck is a flexible structure and supports your head’s weight, making it susceptible to wounds and conditions that cause pain and limit movement. The most common causes of neck pain include:

Muscle strains – Overuse, like hunching over your laptop or smartphone for too many hours, often causes muscle strains. Even minor things can strain the neck muscles such as gritting your teeth or reading in bed.

Worn joints – Your neck joints tend to wear down with advancing age, just like the other joints in your body. Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that causes the cartilages between the vertebral bones to deteriorate. It also leads to new bony spur formation, which influences joint movement and causes pain.

Nerve compression – Bone spurs and herniated discs in your neck’s vertebrae can put pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord and cause numbness and tingling sensation along with pain.

Injuries – Rear-end vehicle collisions often cause a whiplash injury. It happens when the soft tissues of the neck are jerked backward and then forward.

Diseases – Certain diseases, such as meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer can cause neck pain.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will do an examination and take a medical history. He will check for muscle weakness, tenderness, and numbness, and see how far you can move your head and neck side to side, forward, and backward.

Your doctor may order further investigation tests to get a better image of your neck pain’s cause. Examples are:

  • X-rays neck and cervical spine
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Blood Tests

Treatment

The most prevalent types of mild neck pains respond well to self-care and home therapies within two or three weeks. You can also take over-the-counter pain killers for moderate pain relief. If you are experiencing severe neck pain that’s not responding well to home treatments, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relieving medications, muscle relaxants as well as antidepressants for easing pain and discomfort. If neck pain persists, your doctor may recommend other therapies that may include;

Physical therapy

A physiotherapist can teach you to correct posture and neck-strengthening exercises to get instant pain relief. He might also use heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and other interventions to relieve your suffering and prevent a recurrence.

Short-term immobilization

A smooth collar that supports your neck muscles can relieve pain by removing stress. However, this is a short term solution. If used for more than one to two weeks or three hours a day, a supportive collar could do more harm than good.

Chiropractic

A chiropractic adjustment is primarily performed on the spine. It applies a controlled abrupt force to a joint to readjust the dislocated parts. Chiropractic neck interventions can provide pain relief in the short term and carry a minimal risk for many individuals.

Massage

A qualified practitioner manipulates your neck muscles with his or her fingers and palms. There is little scientific evidence to support massage in individuals with neck pain; however, it can provide relief when combined with suggested medicines or physiotherapy.