The neck is a vulnerable part of the spine and is susceptible to injury. Poor posture is a common cause of neck pain as well as muscle, ligament, nerve, and spine injuries. Symptoms of neck pain can vary from mildly uncomfortable to severely debilitating.
Sometimes, pain is only temporary and will go away without treatment, but a lot of times, symptoms of neck pain can be more problematic and require treatment.
Common Pain Symptoms
Neck pain can encompass a whole range of symptoms, but the most common types of neck pain include one or more of the following:
- Stiffness – You may feel tightness in the neck and have difficulty moving it comfortably.
- Soreness – Your neck may feel tender or sore when you move it.
- A dull ache – This may be worse with certain movements or from staying too long in one position.
- Sharp pain – This may come on suddenly with certain movements. It can feel like a twinge in the neck or a stabbing or shooting pain.
- Localized pain – You may only feel pain in certain areas of the neck.
- Radiating pain – If you have a pinched or damaged nerve, pain may be felt in the neck but also radiate to other parts of the body, such as the head, back, shoulder, or arm. It may feel like a burning or searing pain or cause a tingling or numbing sensation.
- Headaches – Some forms of neck pain can lead to head or facial pain. A tension headache, brought on by stress or fatigue, may also cause pain in the neck.
Symptoms of neck pain can be acute or chronic. Acute neck pain begins suddenly, such as after an injury, but resolves as the injury heals, usually within several days or weeks. Chronic neck pain lasts longer than three months. It may be constant and caused by structural changes in the spine from a medical condition or a degenerative disease, such as arthritis. Degenerative diseases can cause the spinal structures to break down and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves and result in neck pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your neck pain isn’t improving or your symptoms are getting worse, it is best to get it checked out by a doctor. In order to diagnose your neck pain, your doctor will perform a physical examination, ask you about your symptoms and medical history, and ask for imaging tests such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan or a nerve conduction study. Depending on the cause, type, and severity of your neck pain, your doctor will determine the best course of treatment.
The treatment for neck pain can vary, but the majority of neck problems can be treated with nonsurgical treatments. Treatment modalities may include pain medications, short periods of rest, physical therapy, heat therapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, injectable pain relief medication, and wearing a soft neck collar for support. If symptoms progress or continue and nonsurgical treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary.
Preventing Neck Pain
Some causes of neck pain can be avoided by simple lifestyle changes. These include:
- Improving your posture at work. Sit up straight at your desk with your feet flat on the floor and your arms level on your desk. Ensure your computer monitor is at level with your eyes.
- Sleep on a firm mattress. Make sure your head is supported and that your neck is comfortable. Avoid sleeping on your back or with your neck in a twisted position.
- If you sit at a desk or drive for long periods, regularly stretch your neck and roll your shoulders to prevent them from stiffening up. Take regular breaks to stand, move about, stretch muscles, and get the blood circulating better.
- Avoiding having your neck bent for long periods of time, such as when looking down at a smartphone.
- If your neck is vulnerable to injury, avoid high impact sports or high-risk activities.
Kamerlink Pain Institute in Boca Raton, Florida
If you are finding neck pain is having an impact on your daily life, it is time to seek advice from Kamerlink Pain Institute. We offer compassionate and effective care to all patients. From non-opioid medications to pain relieving injections, we have all types of effective treatments to offer. To make an appointment, please call (561) 404-7667.