Updated: Jun 1
Neck pain is pretty common, and there are many different treatments used to treat neck pain. It can be caused by many different reasons as well. Overall, if left untreated, neck pain can lead to a slew of other problems. Good neck pain treatment is important to use early in the process to prevent these other problems.
In this blog post, we'll cover some of the common causes of neck pain as well as discuss some treatment options in our Manhattan pain management clinic to help you overcome them.
Types of Neck Pain
If you are experiencing neck pain, it is important to determine how severe the pain is and how long it has been occurring.
Chronic neck pain is classified as pain that has been present for more than three months and causes significant interference with daily activities. It can be caused by several factors, including arthritis, stress fractures, muscle spasms in the shoulders or back, osteoporosis, and poor posture. Those who have had an injury to their neck may be more likely to develop chronic neck pain if they do not receive proper treatment after the initial injury occurs.
Acute neck pain usually lasts less than three months and may be caused by an injury such as whiplash from an auto accident or head injury from a fall. Acute neck pain can also occur from sleeping at an awkward angle or poor posture when sitting at a computer for extended periods.
A combination of treatments, such as physical therapy and injections, may be used to manage acute and chronic neck pain.
Who is at Risk for Neck Pain
Anyone can experience neck pain, but some people are more likely than others to develop the condition.
The following people are at higher risk:
People who work at a desk all day. This includes office workers, teachers, cashiers, and other people who spend most of their time sitting.
People with poor posture or who have had past neck injuries or surgeries.
People who participate in sports that involve running or jumping (such as basketball).
People who lift heavy objects or perform repetitive tasks with their arms and hands.
People who experience stress or anxiety may be more prone to developing chronic neck pain.
People who have had recent neck surgery or have suffered a traumatic injury to their neck.
People with medical conditions that affect the joints in the neck area, such as arthritis or herniated discs (when the jelly-like center of an intervertebral disc pushes through a tear in its outer fibrous ring) can cause neck pain.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
The neck can be a very complicated area of the body, and there are many different causes of neck pain. Some people may experience only temporary discomfort, but others can develop chronic pain that lasts for weeks or months at a time.
The most common causes include:
Strain or sprains. These can occur when you fall directly onto your neck or shoulders, such as in a car accident or sports injury, or if you overextend your neck while working at a computer or looking down for long periods of time. A sprain is an overstretching of the ligament that connects two bones together; it's typically caused by twisting movements such as those involved in contact sports like football or hockey. A strain is an overstretching of the muscle.
Traumatic injuries. These include fractures (broken bones), dislocations (bones out of joint), and other traumatic injuries that occur when there's a sudden impact to the head or upper body, such as whiplash from a car crash.
Muscle tension or spasms. These can occur when you spend too much time on a computer or other device with your head bent down and without proper support for your neck.
Facet joint syndrome. Facet joint syndrome occurs when the joints between vertebrae have become inflamed due to injury or degeneration with time. This can result in severe pain radiating into other areas of your body, such as your arms or legs, making it difficult for you to move around freely and causing discomfort when you do so.
Arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and stiffness. If you have arthritis in your neck, you may experience symptoms such as aching or burning sensations in your neck and shoulders, headaches, numbness and tingling feelings in your arms and hands, swelling around your jawline, difficulty swallowing and speaking, difficulty turning your head from side to side or up and down (torticollis), vision problems or hearing loss.
Depending on the cause and severity of your neck pain, there are several treatment options you can explore. However, you should also be aware that some symptoms may indicate an underlying medical condition that warrants further evaluation and treatment by a specialist.
Treatments for Neck Pain
While most cases of neck pain are not serious, it is important to seek medical attention. It's important to see a pain doctor who specializes in treating musculoskeletal disorders to determine what treatment is needed.
Treatment options for neck pain vary depending on the cause. If you suffer from frequent bouts of neck pain, your health care provider may recommend exercises to strengthen the muscles in your back and shoulders.
Suppose you have suffered a specific injury that caused your neck pain, like whiplash in a car accident. In that case, your doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy treatments to improve the range of motion and decrease stiffness in your neck and back.
A physical therapist can also provide home exercise programs that you can do on your own to help prevent future episodes of discomfort. A chiropractor may provide manual manipulation of your spinal column and other joints to help relieve neck pain.
Acupuncture is one of the most effective methods of pain relief. It works by stimulating the release of endorphins (pain-relieving hormones). It also helps to regulate neurotransmitters and reduce inflammation in the body. In addition to being a great strategy for long-term pain relief, acupuncture can also be used as a complement to other treatments such as physical therapy or chiropractic care.
While neck pain is relatively common, and many people experience it at some point, if you have symptoms that have been going on for a while or are significantly impacting your life, don't suffer in silence.
Call our Manhattan pain management clinic about treatment options for you. Remember, there are many different causes that can lead to chronic neck pain. An experienced provider will be able to work with you to identify the source of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that is effective and meets your individual needs.