Neck Pain

What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is fairly common and it can be a sign of a bigger issue suck as whiplash, a pinched nerve, degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disc. It can also be s sign of a throat infection or an injury.  It is also called cervical pain.

What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain?

A dull ache is the most common symptom associated with neck pain.  It may get worse with movement or when you turn your head.  A dull ache may also come with shooting pain, difficulty swallowing, tingling, numbness, pulsations, lightheadedness, or even swelling.

Some experience other pains such as a headache or should pain. It can even come with back pain.  The other symptoms that are associated with having neck pain can be a sign of a more complicated condition.

Neck Pain Causes

Most often, neck pain occurs as a result of tension or strain on the neck muscles. Sometimes, neck pain can be the result of a fall, whiplash or contact sport. Neck pains resulting from muscle tension and strain occur due to activities such as poor posture, sleeping with the neck in a bad position, working at a desk for an extended period without change of posture or jerking the neck during workouts.

Neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious health issue like a heart attack. If you experience neck pain alongside common symptoms of a heart attack like sweating, shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea, and arm or jaw pain, be sure to seek emergency services.

Meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord, can also trigger neck pain. Meningitis patients often experience neck stiffness alongside other symptoms. Other causes of neck pain include osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis. In rare instances, tumors, abscesses, congenital abnormalities and cancer of the spine can also cause neck pain.

How is Neck Pain Treated?

The treatment for neck pain will depend on what the underlying source of the pain is.  It can be as simple as getting rest and applying heat or cold to the neck or it can require physical therapy or a soft-collar traction.  If the underlying cause of the neck pain is serious enough, it may even require surgery. Other treatments may include injections of anesthetics or cortisone, muscle relaxers, or analgesics.

If neck pain is associated with other symptoms, it is always best to consult a doctor.  If you have been in an accident or have injured yourself in some way, a doctor will be able to help determine if your neck pain is best treated at home or if a hospital is required.

Neck Pain Prevention

In terms of comfort and support while you sleep, there are a number of options you can consider in order to prevent neck pain. One such option is investing in a new pillow. As a rule, consider using a pillow that neutrally aligns your cervical spine. This will ensure that your neck’s natural curve is supported and maintained while you sleep.

Investing in an ergonomic workplace furniture is another important tip for preventing neck pain. Get a desk that allows you to sit comfortably in front of your computer. Position your monitor to ensure that you gaze directly in the middle of the screen. If you are using a laptop, ensure that you connect it to a separate monitor to avoid angling your head down to see the screen.

Regularly exercising your neck muscles can also help prevent neck pains. Keep your neck muscles and ligaments strong by doing brief sets of stretching and strengthening exercises during the day. One such exercise is the chin tuck exercise. Besides strengthening the neck muscles, this exercise also brings the head into alignment over the shoulders. In addition, it also stretches the sub-occipital and scalene muscles.

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