Do you often experience extreme pain in your neck? When you are working on your laptop for a long time you feel this discomfort every time, don’t you? Sometimes it is very irritating and disturbing as well. What do you think affects neck pain? How can you mend it? All of these questions will be answered here.
Your neck actually constitutes the vertebrae, which forms the spinal cord connecting your head to your upper torso. The vertebral column is composed of seven cervical discs, twelve thoracic discs and five lumbar discs. Cervical discs are present in your neck region, which absorbs mechanical shocks and jerks in between bones. Different muscles, ligaments, and bones in your neck give support to your head and ease its motion.
If there is no any sort of injury, abnormality or inflammation caused on your neck, it will lead to stiffness and pain. Sometimes you may simply experience neck pain because of poor sleeping posture, or it may result from accidental injuries. You may come across a neck injury if you suddenly fall from a certain height, or during any athletic performance. Most of the times neck pain is not that serious and usually goes with time. However, if the pain is associated with any prevalent disorder in your body, then it needs proper treatment.
Causes of neck pain
- Strain or stress of muscles
There are physical activities responsible for the cause of neck pain, which include:
- Sudden jerk on your neck while exercising
- Poor posture
- Working on a laptop or a desk for a long time, without breaks
- Bad sleeping positions
- Accidental injury
The neck is a very vulnerable body part, which is prone to any kind of injury and fatal consequences. It can be an accidental fall from a building, a heavy blow or whiplash, and car accidents. You may even hurt your neck muscles and ligament, which are common injuries happening during sports. It mostly happens when you move your neck at an angle beyond its normal range. If you somehow fracture your neck bones, it can lead to permanent damage to your spinal cord.
- Heart attack
Did you know that neck pain can actually be a sign of cardiac arrest? Yes, you heard it right. Neck pain is not quite a prominent symptom for heart attack, but with other associated signs it can prove so-
- Difficulty in breathing
- Pain in arm and jaws
- Excessive sweating
If you ever come across such symptoms along with neck pain, immediately call for an ambulance and seek doctor’s help.
It is a condition where the thin tissues lining your spinal cord and brain start swelling up or inflamed. When you have meningitis, it is generally associated with headache, fever, and a strong stiffness in your neck. Meningitis is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated at the right time.
- Rare causes
Neck stiffness and pain can sometimes be because of-
- Spine cancer
- Congenital abnormalities
- Rheumatoid arthritis- this disease is associated with pain and swelling of your bone spurs and joints. If rheumatoid arthritis occurs near your neck region, then it may result in severe neck pain.
- Osteoporosis- in this condition, your bones weaken and become extremely fragile. You land up with osteoporosis because of inadequate supply of vitamin D in your body. Osteoporosis generally affects your knees and arms, but it may also attack your neck bones.
- Spinal stenosis- it is a condition where your vertebral column becomes narrow, increasing the pressure on spinal cord and nerve roots. You suffer from this condition as a result of long-term inflammation, due to arthritis and similar conditions.
- Spondylosis- you may even call it vertebral arthritis, as it is a degenerative form of osteoarthritis of the neck joints. It results in narrowing of space between vertebral discs, putting stress on joints.
- Herniated cervical disc- this is the condition where a disc protrudes out of its normal position, because of any injury or trauma. In common terms, you call this condition as a slipped or ruptured disc.
- Fibromyalgia- you suffer from severe pain in the muscles in all parts of your body, majorly in the shoulder and neck regions.
When should you visit a clinic?
If you see any of the symptoms persisting for a longer time, do not delay anymore in consulting a professional health expert. You should also contact your doctor if you see other prominent signs, such as:
- Extreme pain in your neck without any obvious cause
- Presence of lumps in the neck region
- Tingling sensation
- Swollen glands
- Difficulty in moving your arms and shoulder
- Bowel or bladder malfunction
- Trouble in breathing and swallowing
- Inability in touching your chest with your chin comfortably
- Pain in your hands and legs
How to treat neck pain?
To recover from neck pain, you can go for some therapeutic options such as-
- Heat and ice therapy
- Antibiotics (for any infection related neck pain)
- Exercising and stretching
- Corticosteroid injections
- Muscle relaxants
- Medications for pain relief
- Neck collar
- Neck massage
- Chiropractic therapy
- TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
How to recover from neck pain at home?
- The most prevalent cause of neck pain, in general, is a bad sleeping posture. So you can start off with the easiest effort to sleep in the right position. You may even consider improving your posture with a supporting neck pillow if required.
- Go for painkilling medications or NSAIDS such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Try alternating ice and heating pad therapy, or a hot shower.
- Gently massage your neck, with soft pressure on the painful areas.
If you wish to use a neck collar, do not do so without having a proper consultation with a doctor. This is because if you fail to use them the right way, the neck pain will worsen instead.