By Medicover Hospitals / 27 Jan 2021
Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, is a common problem, as two-thirds of the population have neck pain in their lives and it is not always centralized in the neck. It can radiate throughout your upper body, affect your shoulders, arms, and chest, and can even cause headaches.
- What is neck pain?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home remedies
What is neck pain?
Neck pain can arise due to muscle tension in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves that emanate from the cervical vertebrae. The rupture of the joints in the neck creates pain, as does the rupture of the joints in the upper back. It is so common that it is the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide, after ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection. Almost 30 percent experience it each year.
Types of neck pain:
Axial neck pain:
One of the most common types of neck pain is axial pain, also called mechanical pain. Axial pain is concentrated in one part or region of the neck and does not move or radiate.
Neuropathic neck pain:
Neuropathic neck pain, derived from the nerves or nerve roots of the cervical spine, can result from conditions such as a herniated disc pressing against a nearby nerve or other causes of nerve compression.
When the spinal cord in the neck is compressed, it develops myelopathic pain.
When pain is experienced in a location other than its source and is not caused by nerve root irritation, it is called referred pain. It is usually experienced as a deep, painful, cramping, and/or stabbing sensation.
Radicular pain can occur when a nerve root in the cervical spine becomes inflamed causing pain to radiate along the nerve, to the shoulder, arm, and/or hand.
In some rare cases, neck stiffness or pain occurs due to:
- Sitting in an incorrect posture for a longer time and slouching or hunching over a computer screen can lead to a forward head posture, which puts additional strain on the neck.
- Sleep in the wrong position holding the head at the wrong angle or wrong turns at night, there may be a stiff neck in the morning.
- Repetitive movements of turning your head repetitively, such as side to side while dancing or swimming, can lead to overuse of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck.
- If the bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae) are fractured, the spinal cord can also be damaged. Neck injury due to sudden head shaking is commonly called whiplash.
- Rheumatoid arthritis reasons pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, neck pain can occur.
- Osteoporosis weakens the bones and can cause small fractures this condition often occurs in the hands or knees, but it can also occur in the neck.
- Fibromyalgia is a situation that causes muscle ache throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.
- Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots as they exit the vertebrae. This can be due to prolonged inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.
- Congenital anomalies
- Spinal cancer
Neck pain is most often diagnosed by the physician. The most crucial component of treatment is attempting to identify the underlying reason for the pain, as this could direct the treatment, and this test is most often done if you experience numbness or tingling in your shoulder, arms, or neck, or if you have a focal weakness indicating nerve damage.
- Your doctor may order imaging tests to get a better idea of what is causing your neck pain. Examples include:
- X-rays can reveal areas in your neck where your nerves or spinal cord could be pinched by bone spurs or other degenerative changes.
- Computed tomography combines X-ray images taken from many directions to produce detailed cross-sectional views of the structures inside your neck.
- MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of bones and soft tissues, including the spinal cord and the nerves that come from the spinal cord.
- It is possible to have X-ray or MRI evidence of structural problems in your neck without having symptoms. Imaging tests are best used as a supplement to a careful history and physical exam to determine the cause of your pain.
If the doctor suspects that your neck pain could be related to a pinched nerve, he or she may suggest an EMG. an EMG involves inserting fine needles through the skin into a muscle and performing tests to measure the speed of nerve conduction to check whether the nerves are working properly.
Blood tests can sometimes provide proof of inflammatory or infectious conditions that might cause or contribute to your neck pain.
- The most common types of moderate to mild neck pain respond positively to self-care within a few weeks. If neck pain persists, your doctor may recommend other treatments, based on the results, which may include:
- Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers than you can get without a prescription, and muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants to relieve pain.
- Acupuncture includes inserting needles into specific pressure points in your body. While more scientific research is needed to identify proven benefits, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years in Eastern medicine. Visit only a certified doctor with sterile needles.
A physiotherapist can train you a correct posture, alignment, and neck strengthening exercises, and might use heat, ice, electric stimulation, and different measures to assist ease your pain and prevent a recurrence.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are electrodes that are placed on the skin near painful areas that deliver small electrical impulses that can relieve pain
Traction uses weights, pulleys, or an air bladder to gently stretch the neck. This therapy, under the supervision of a medical professional and a physical therapist, can alleviate some neck pain, especially those related to irritation of the nerve root
Surgical and other procedures:
The physician may also inject corticosteroid medicines for the nerve roots, into the small facet joints of the bones of the cervical spine, or the muscle tissue of the neck to alleviate pain. Anesthetic medications, such as lidocaine, can also inject to relieve neck pain.
Surgery is rarely needed for neck pain, it could be an option to relieve nerve root or spinal cord compression.
When to visit a Doctor?
If your neck pain interferes with your usual daily activities and the following conditions persist, you must see your doctor
- The pain started after a car accident or injury.
- Pain spreading down your arms or legs
- Weakness in your arms, hands, or legs
- Headache along with pain
- Severe neck pain with no apparent cause
- Lump in the neck
- Swollen glands
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Pain that radiates to the arms or legs
- Inability to move arms or hands
- Inability to touch the chest with the chin
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction
- Apply ice for the first few days. After that, apply heat with a heating pad, a hot compress, or by taking a hot shower.
- Take a few days off from sports activities that aggravate your signs and lifting weights. When you resume your normal activity, do so slowly as symptoms ease.
- Exercise your neck every day. Slowly stretch your head with movements from side to side and up and down.
- Use good posture.
- Avoid holding the phone between your neck and shoulder.
- Receive a gentle neck massage.
- Use a special neck pillow to sleep.
- Do not wear a collar without your doctor's approval. If you don't use them correctly, they can make your symptoms worse.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The best sleeping positions for your neck are on your back or your side, be sure to use a pillow that supports the curvature of your neck and a flatter pillow to cushion your head.
Some viruses that affect the throat, consisting of Epstein-Barr, also can reason viral meningitis.
Go to an emergency room right away if your neck pain presents with symptoms such as fever or chills. Severe and persistent headache. Nausea or vomiting.
Neck Pain - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1521694202000979
Neck Pain in the General Population- https://europepmc.org/article/med/8066508
Chronic Neck Pain- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304395906002648