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Neck Pain – Causes and Treatment Options

neck-painc-causes-treatment-optionsNeck pain is a widespread complaint. Pain in the neck muscles usually occurs due to a muscle strain from poor posture, such as leaning over your computer or hunching over your workbench, and other benign causes. Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness. Reliable multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer neck pain treatment using safe and effective nonsurgical modalities.

Generally, neck pain begins with a dull ache. In some cases, pain in the neck gets worse with movement of the neck or turning the head. Other associated symptoms include  muscle tightness and spasms, reduced ability to move your head, pain that gets worse if the head is held in one place for long periods (such as when driving or working at a computer), and headache. Risk factors associated with the condition include injury from involvement in contact sports, motor-vehicle accidents, etc. Neck strengthening exercises and neck bracing can prevent neck pain in the context of these activities.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain or stiffness can happen for a variety of reasons –

  • Degeneration or wear and tear – Aging causes the vertebrae and discs in the neck to wear down. This can lead to chronic neck pain. In addition, medical conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, pinched nerves, and cervical fracture can also cause the vertebrae, discs, and other parts of the neck to break down.
  • Incorrect sleeping position -Waking up with the feeling of pain and stiffness in neck is quite common.  Sleeping position, firmness of mattress, and the number of pillows that they use can all affect the intensity of pain. In addition, falling asleep with either a lack of support for the head or the neck out of alignment may also increase the likelihood of waking up with a sore neck.
  • Muscle strains – Repetitive use like hunching too many hours over your computer or smartphone often triggers muscle strains. Even minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain the neck muscles.
  • Nerve compression – Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can compress the nerves branching out from the spinal cord, causing pain.
  • Injury – The neck is susceptible to injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move outside of their normal range. Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injury, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck. The movement resembles the crack of a whip.

Neck pain can also be caused by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.

Treatment

Generally, most mild or moderate neck pain symptoms can be easily treated at home. Some cases of neck pain will resolve quickly within a day while others may require a few weeks to resolve fully. Self-care options include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Applying ice to the injured area
  • Practicing good posture when sitting, standing, and walking
  • Sleeping in a position that supports the neck
  • Applying heat using heating pads, baths, or warm, moist towels
  • Massaging and manipulating the neck
  • Stretching the neck
  • Reducing stress

If neck pain does not resolve with these measures and becomes chronic, medical treatment may be necessary. In professional pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC, patients will be carefully evaluated and provided with customized treatment. Neck pain treatment options recommended will depend on factors as age, severity of symptoms, and location of pain. A typical neck pain treatment program would include chiropractic manipulation and physical therapy supported by pain medications and cervical epidural injections.

Physical therapy exercises such as strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises can reduce pain and muscle stiffness in the regions surrounding the neck, and improve posture and range of motion. Chiropractic treatment helps loosen up the joints of the vertebrae in the neck and correct overall posture and spinal alignment. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as analgesics, corticosteroids, and muscle relaxants are prescribed by physicians to ease inflammation associated with this condition. Cervical epidural injections, injected into the epidural space reduce inflammation around the irritated nerve and significantly improve pain and function.

 

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