Everything You Need to Know About Neck Pain
Do you have neck pain? You are not alone. Neck pain is the third most common type of pain in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. If you are like most people, you want to ease your neck pain without painful, complicated, or often risky surgery. Fortunately, nonsurgical orthopedic care can relieve your pain.
Causes and Symptoms of Neck Pain
Many things can cause neck pain, from muscle strain to arthritis. Because your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, the joints of your neck are especially vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict movement. Spending too many hours hunched over a smartphone or computer screen can strain neck muscles. Even minor activities, such as reading in bed, can strain these muscles.
As with your knee joints or other joints in your body, the joints that allow you to move your neck can wear down with age and use. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage protecting the bones of your neck breaks down, and this allows the development of bone spurs that cause pain and affect joint movement.
Rubbery discs cushioning the bones of your neck can break down with age; herniated discs can press against nerves to cause pain in your neck. Bone spurs can also press against these nerves to cause pain.
Injuries sustained from a rear-end car collision is a common cause of a particular type of neck pain known as whiplash. This type of collision jerks the head backward then forward in a way that strains soft tissues in your neck.
Symptoms of neck pain depend largely on their cause. General symptoms of neck pain include:
- Stiffness, soreness and difficulty moving your neck, particularly from side to side
- Muscle spasms and tightness
- Pain that gets worse when you hold your head still, such as when you drive a car or work at your computer
- Sharp pain that may feel like stabbing or stinging, localized on one spot and often on the lower part of the neck
- General neck soreness that causes achy tenderness
- Radiating pain, from your neck into your shoulders and arms
- Trouble gripping or lifting objects, if weakness is present
- Headaches resulting from irritation or pinched nerve in your neck
Neck pain is usually the result of a minor problem but it can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Seek immediate medical care if your neck pain is the result of a car accident or other severe trauma, or if the pain lasts for several days, or causes tingling, numbness or weakness that radiates down one shoulder, arm or finger.
Treatment Options for Neck Pain
Non-surgical treatments include physical therapy, massage, and the use of various injections. Treatment depends largely on the cause, symptoms and severity of your neck pain. You may benefit from a single treatment type or a personalized treatment plan that includes several treatments.
Physical therapy for neck pain may consist of therapeutic exercise to increase strength and mobility, manual therapy, and various modalities, such as ice, heat, stimulation, ultrasound, kinesiotaping and the use of other instruments.
Massage therapy promotes healing by melting muscle spasms, mobilizing soft tissue, stimulating blood flow, and facilitating lymph drainage. Massage therapy also imparts a calming, positive effect on your brain to improve sleep, optimize your mood and relieve stress.
Steroid injections deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into the affected area of your neck to reduce pain and inflammation. These injections alleviate your pain, which allows you to participate in therapeutic exercise.
Comprehensive, nonsurgical orthopedic care provides the best possible outcome without surgery. If you have neck pain, make an appointment with Progressive Spine and Sports Medicine. We serve patients living in and around Ramsey, NJ including Bergen County, New York City and beyond.