Neck Pain Relief Tips

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What are my options for pain that won't go away?

When the Pain Won't Go Away, What Do I Do?

Persistent or chronic pain is the kind that won't go away, even with rest and conservative attempts at relieving it. If your neck pain just goes on and on, there are more aggressive measures your doctor can take to get you the relief you seek. Some are fairly simple while others are more drastic.

The first step to take is to have your doctor prescribe treatment from a physical therapist. A P.T. will be able to evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan aimed at relieving your pain and restoring the balance of strength and flexibility necessary to maintain the structural integrity of your cervical spine. Through therapeutic exercise, stretching and education, your physical therapist can show you how to relieve neck pain when it occurs. They may also incorporate the use of modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation or traction to alleviate your symptoms.

Injections using corticosteroids near the nerve roots or lidocaine to numb the pain are another treatment option. Some people find immediate, permanent relief from these types of injections. Your physician may also feel that a more potent pain medication is indicated, something stronger than what you can buy at the drug store, or possibly a muscle relaxant.

As a last resort, surgery may be necessary; however, invasive procedures should be considered only after all other attempts at achieving pain relief have failed.

   
What are the symptoms of neck pain to be aware of?

Sifting Through the Symptoms: What Neck Pain Feels Like

Pain in the cervical spine can be acute, coming on suddenly, or chronic, wearing you down day after day. Like any other pain, it can be draining both physically and emotionally. While most neck pain can be managed with home care and a self-help approach, you should be cognizant of symptoms that persist despite your every attempt to get relief from neck pain. If the pain is so bad that you can't touch your chin to your chest after several days, for example, or if the symptoms don't lessen in about a week, seek medical attention. In general, neck pain symptoms can be described as:

  • Either sharp or dull, localized in the neck itself
  • A stiff feeling, making it difficult to move the neck through a normal range of motion (for example, looking over your shoulder to make a lane change while driving becomes problematic)
  • Significant enough to interfere with normal daily activities (drying your hair, finding a comfortable sleeping position, and talking on the phone may all become difficult)
  • Extending into your shoulders and back (when your neck is stiff and sore enough, movement becomes compromised throughout your spine and these other areas begin to ache as well)

Paying attention to the nature and quality of your symptoms is very helpful in helping your doctor sift through the facts and determine the cause of your pain. Like with any other pain-related condition, taking a proactive approach will help you avoid the onset of a chronic situation.

   
Is my posture important?

Poor Posture = Poor Neck

Problems with poor posture are one of the most common causes of neck pain, which makes most neck pain easily stoppable by simply improving bad habits. Bad posture habits often begin at early ages in life, which makes the gradual ending result of neck pain a serious problem. Many simple activities performed with poor posture are mostly innocent, but the consequences are of significant concern.

When staying in the same place for extended periods of time, practice good posture. This means keep your neck in a neutral position at all times. If this is not possible, always make sure not to situate your neck in an awkward position. Common activities that may instigate problems with neck posture include reading in bed, sleeping, using a computer, and lifting heavy items. These activities, though normal in nature, often require using awkward positions to be most comfortable and effective.

When experiencing neck pain connected with bad posture, patients will feel stiffness in the neck and shoulders. At times, patients can also expect to experience headaches as a result of the bodily trauma that neck pain causes. Patients can expect these symptoms:

  • Consistent pain
  • Headaches
  • Tingling, burning, numbness
  • Stiffness in neck and shoulder
If you are experiencing posture-related neck pain, it is important that you consult a doctor for help. If your posture-related neck pain symptoms are severe, you will be referred to a physical therapist for additional assistance. If you don't receive proper aid, your neck pain may continue to increase, only causing additional injury.

   
Is Whiplash Serious?

Whiplash and Neck Pain

Whiplash is a serious condition of the cervical spine, caused by injury to the soft tissue of this neck-controlling structure. Whiplash tends to occur following the unexpected moving of the neck, commonly taking place during a car crash or other physical accident. The straining and spraining of this section in the spine can cause long-term injury of the neck, which also causes prolonged neck pain symptoms. As the muscles and ligaments of the neck become injured, the cervical vertebrae can no longer move freely. As a result, the overall function of the neck is jeopardized, which ultimately causes overwhelming pain and discomfort. In severe cases, however, whiplash may create problems beyond just pain and discomfort.

Many other conditions may be causing neck pain symptoms, but whiplash is unique in the fact that its symptoms include more than neck pain. Other than neck pain, symptoms of whiplash may include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Ear ringing
  • Memory loss
  • Blurry vision
Neck pain symptoms often indicate a serious problem, especially since the neck is such an integral component of spinal function. If you are experiencing neck pain connected with whiplash, it's important that you consult a doctor for medical attention.

   
How will my shoulder injury affect my neck?

Shoulder Injuries Often Affect the Neck

The shoulder joint and the neck are both very supporting pieces of the upper body. Since the entire musculoskeletal system operates in unison, the joints located in the upper body have a significant bearing on one another. In particular, the shoulder and neck work especially closely because of their relation within the spine. To stabilize one another, the two joints share complementing muscles within their structure. As a result, injury which occurs in the shoulder is greatly impactive upon the neck. If an injury occurs in the shoulder, neck pain will probably be part of the package.

Neck pain causes vary, but pain of this sort will normally be accompanied by pain in the shoulder and surrounding area. When the shoulder is rotated, patients may notice simultaneous symptoms of neck pain. When this happens, pain may also occur in the shoulder, chest, and/or upper back areas. Symptoms of shoulder-caused neck pain include:

  • Stiffness of joints
  • Swelling
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Bruising, pain, or other signs of injury
If you are experiencing these symptoms, get proper medical care from a professional. To prevent further injury, you must take certain precautionary measures to protect both the shoulder and neck.

   
What are the causes of neck pain?

What a Pain in the Neck!

Whether it comes on gradually or hits you like a ton of bricks, neck pain is a real pain in the neck. Frequently, when there is discomfort in the cervical spine or neck, the symptoms spread to the upper back and shoulders as the muscles that hold up your head struggle to maintain the status quo. These postural muscles are constantly working to offset the pull of gravity (which is drawing the head and neck toward the ground) and can easily become overworked and weakened from the workload. The resultant neck pain is part of a cycle of muscle weakness and fatigue that may become chronic unless the cause is determined. Here are some of the more common causes of neck pain:

  • Muscle strain- The muscles that control and maintain the integrity of the cervical spine may experience pain due to overuse. For example, sitting with poor posture at a computer for extended periods of time can result in strain.
  • Worn joints- The vertebrae of the cervical spine can develop osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition in which the bony surfaces begin to wear down.
  • Disc problems- If the cushioning discs between the vertebrae become thinner and less resilient, they may herniate. Or if the space between the vertebrae themselves narrows, the nerves that come out from that space can become irritated. The result is pain.
  • Spurs- Bony growths can form along the edges of the vertebrae due to trauma or wear and tear. This excess bone may press on nerves and cause pain and restricted movement.
  • Injury- A trauma can result in an injury to the neck itself. For example, car accidents frequently cause whiplash, where the head is jerked forward and back, causing overstretching of the tissue in the neck.

Managing and treating neck pain symptoms early and effectively is important to help avoid the onset of a chronic problem.

   
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