Neck Pain Explained By Leading Orthopaedic Doctor
What is neck pain?
When you experience pain in your neck muscles and it does not go away for a while then you are having neck pain. This is a common problem and poor posture is often responsible for this in most cases. But there can be various causes, but very rarely it is linked to any serious problem. In most cases the cause of pain is rooted back to our everyday habits and movements.
What are the causes of neck pain?
Neck is a vital connective part of our body. It is responsible to support our head. So whenever the neck pains it somehow impacts the entire body since the movement of our body is restricted. So what are the possible causes of this pain, let us find out:
- Poor Posture: The cause of pain can be as simple as poor posture. This can happen by leaning over the laptop or computer screen, or hunching over a workbench. Ultimately the pain comes from strained neck muscles.
- Muscle strains: When we spend too many hours straining our neck hunched over our screens or smartphones, it triggers pain. This can also happen when we are reading in bed and end up lying in unusual patterns.
- Worn out joints: Neck joints like all other joints, also tend to ache due to tissue wear and tear with age. Due to this the body develops bone spurs that can affect joint motion permanently.
- Nerve compression: When bone spurs start showing up on the vertebrae of the neck, it also causes herniated discs in the spinal cord. This will also lead to undue pressure on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord which can cause unbearable stress pains.
- Injuries: In case of accidents, or sudden collision, or fall, the head tends to jerk backward and forward, adding strain to the neck tissues. This is called a whiplash injury and it can be very painful.
- Diseases: Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, meningitis and cancer can all lead to neck pain.
Now that we know what can be the possible causes of neck pain, it is safe to say that the situation is not alarming in any way unless you are suffering from any pre-existing life threatening disease.
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
It’s possible that our daily activities are causing our neck to hurt. Your neck is a complex blend of muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves, and tendons which when hold your head in place. It is the pathway to your brain. It can become stiff or painful because of the posture and sleeping habits that put stress or strain them.
The following are the main signs and symptoms associated with neck pain:
- If you keep the head in the same posture for prolonged periods of time it gets worse.
- If your muscles, near the neck or around it, experience tightness or spasms.
- If your head and shoulders experience decreased mobility.
- If you experience headache along the back of your head.
- If you have experienced any accident or trauma to the head or neck.
When to seek medical help?
Experiencing neck pain due to bad posture can be managed by applying a warm compress on the neck to soothe the nerves and muscles. One can also get relief with over the counter balm or medications. However, if the pain is
- severe and persists for days without relief
- starts spreading down the arms and legs, and
- comes with numbness, weakness or tingling sensation
Immediately seek medical help from your physician.
How to prevent neck pain?
The most prominent cause of neck pain is poor posture and age-related weakness of muscles and tissues. To help prevent this
- Keep your head straight and centered over your spine.
- Don’t slouch or slump or strain your neck to look at devices and screens.
- Keep a straight posture even while sitting. Make sure your shoulders and hips are aligned.
- Make sure you don’t sit in the same stride for too long. Take a walk or stretch in between by taking short bouts of breaks.
- Smoking can also increase the risk of neck pains, so try to quit.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads on your shoulders.
How do I know if my neck pain is serious?
It is a serious problem when
- Pain worsens despite self-care.
- Pain persists after several weeks of self-care.
- Pain starts radiating down your arms or legs.
- Pain is accompanied with headache, weakness, numbness or tingling.
What are the types of neck pain?
There are seven types of neck pains depending on the point of origin of the pain.
- Muscle Pain: The muscle group around the neck strains, sprains, and tears.
- Muscle Spasm: A sudden, spontaneous, and painful contraction of the neck muscles.
- Headache: When the back of your neck starts paining it spreads with a headache.
- Facet Joint Pain: This occurs due to degenerated discs of the spinal cord.
- Nerve Pain: When the cranial nerves around the spine start getting affected.
- Referred Pain: When the pain in some other part of the body starts causing pain in the neck. For example during a heart attack one might start experiencing pain.
- Bone Pain: When the damage is at the bone level due to trauma or cancer.
Who should I see for neck pain?
The ideal doctor would be an orthopaedic since they would be able to assess the state of the muscles, tissues and bones. If the pain is isolated to the nerves, then it is a nerve disorder and needs the attention of a neurologist.