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  • Writer's pictureBhakti Sura

What Is Neck Pain

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Neck pain is very common affecting at least 30-50% of adults in the general at any given time. Neck pain can vary from being simple sore pain to chronic, sharp shooting pain. For some it goes away with some rest or simple stretch, for others, it may last from days to weeks.

So, if your pain doesn’t go away, get checked by your Doctor, Physiotherapist, and Chiropractor.

Common causes-

∙ osteoarthritis of neck

∙ bone spur

∙ trigger pain

∙ prolapsed disc

∙ facet joint locking of the cervical spine

∙ nerve compression

∙ shoulder/ upper back problems

∙ history of neck injuries

∙ history of accidents/ Falls

∙ history of neck surgery

∙ hypermobile joints

∙ poor posture / ergonomics/Work desk

∙ prolong sitting/driving

∙ stiffness or tightness neck/ shoulder/ chest muscles

∙ weak neck / upper back muscles

∙ few genetic conditions

∙ stress

Common complains-

∙ tender neck and upper shoulder

∙ painful neck/ Shoulder movements

∙ tight muscles of the neck

∙ spasm of neck /Shoulder muscles

∙ loss of neck movements

∙ clicking on movements

∙ locking of the neck in one position

∙ headaches

∙ tingling in hands

∙ numbness of hands

∙ shooting pain from neck to arm to elbow to hand/s

∙ unknown pain in hands/Fingers

∙ losing balance

∙ dizziness

Alleviate Early Onset Pain By:

∙ use of good sitting, standing, working posture.

∙ take frequent breaks at work, or driving, (2-4hours)

∙ design your workstation to fit you the best

∙ use a headset while taking over the phone for prolonged hours

∙ avoid heavy lifting or jerky movements

∙ proper pillow to sleep on with comfortable sleeping posture

∙ avoid looking down on the phone/ Desk

When to Seek Help?

If your pain persists for more than 2 days with no change or gets worse, see a doctor and/or your therapist.

Treatments for Neck Pain:

Medications- Some anti-inflammatory medication and over-the-counter drugs might help in the Acute stage. Consult your doctor for it. Your doctor can also refer you to a therapist.

Your therapist can plan a holistic treatment plan for better results. It can consist of a few or most of these treatment approaches, depending on your diagnosis.

Smart Rest- Try to avoid any painful movement. Ask your therapist for different resting positions that can help you.

Neck Brace- Use only if advised by a professional.

A neck brace is only needed in case of a severe injury, neck instability like fractures/ accidents. The brace helps prevent any painful movement and provides stability to joints.

Ice- Ice pack or massage helps in case of inflammation and spasm of the neck muscles. Used only for the first few days of the complaint, with proper positioning repeated 2-3 times/day.

LASER Therapy - Works best in acute injury. It helps in reducing swelling, promoting healing, and reducing muscle spasms.

Sports Taping- Can protect the painful movement, assist weak muscles, and posture correction.

Tender Release- It helps in relieving muscle spasms, tightness, and regaining movement.

Trigger Point Release- Helps in relieving sub-acute to chronic neck pain. TPR help in reducing pain radiating from neck to arm and hands and other referred pain.

Joint Distraction and Mobilization- It helps in reducing pain, improving joint alignment, and improving joint function or headaches.

Cervical Joint Manipulation- Performed by a Chiropractor and Therapist. It helps to open-locked facet joints of the neck and regain neck movement.

Stretching- In most cases, stretching of tight neck and upper back muscles is often required. It helps to maintain gain movement.

Acupuncture- Help in relieving radiating nerve-like pain, non-resolving muscle spasm, and pain. Also, helps in chronic pain, headaches, and more.

Dry Needling- When done, can help with muscular pain, and tightness.

Massage Therapy– Massage helps muscular pain, spasm, relieves joint stress, headache and relaxes tight muscles.

Joint Stabilization Exercise

Are often needed as unstable and faulty movement often delays recovery. Are designed to correct it. This may involve simple isometric exercises, core stabilization exercises, and progression.

Joint Alignment and Strengthening Exercise-

Are designed for Phase 2-3 of rehab. They strengthen weak muscles and correct any muscle imbalance. It ranges from simple neck range of motion to moving against resistance, to retraining all functional movements.

Ergonomic Program-

This consists of a mixture of movement and education programs. It will help you return to work safely and to regain your regular ADLs. It involves doing simple desk exercises, posture training. Inputs on the importance to have an Ergonomic table and modifications.

When to Seek Immediate Medical Advice?

∙ recent motor vehicle accident or fall

∙ severe unbearable pain

∙ headaches

∙ dizziness

∙ vision problems

∙ losing balance / sudden weakness

∙ difficulty speaking, eating, chewing

∙ unexplained numbness, tingling in the arms or legs.

Do You Need an X-Ray/ MRI/ CT Scan?

NO, most therapists can diagnose your root cause and can help you without it.

X-ray if done, will help in ruling out any joint degeneration, fracture, and joint alignment.

MRI/ CT scans are prescribed for severe neck conditions for the complaint of tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness. Moreover, your therapist will refer you to your doctor if needed.

Do I Need to Undergo Surgery?

No. Most people will recover without any surgerical correction.

Ideally, you should first try physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, cortisone, and most other treatment options. Most people will recover if treated holistically.

Surgical correction is needed for severe excruciating pain, nerve compression, loss of movement and muscle control, chronic unresolved pain, unstable joint, stenosis, and disc prolapse. Even after surgery, there are chances that you may still persist with some discomfort. Ask your doctor about the possible prognosis in your case.

Healing Your Pain Today

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