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Neck Pain: Your Symptom and Treatment Guide

Neck pain is extremely common resulting in about 80% of people experiencing it in the United States. It’s caused by anything abnormal in the cervical spine and neck muscles. The pain ranges from stiffness to extreme depending on the cause.

Sometimes you know the cause of neck pain, sometimes you do not. But how do you know when the pain is something to be concerned about, and when you can treat it at home?
If you’re looking for answers to questions about neck pain relief, keep reading!

What Could Cause Neck Pain?

There are many different factors that contribute to neck pain. Here are some of the more common causes:

  • Poor posture
  • Sleep that’s unsupportive
  • Minor injuries
  • Quick movements
  • Stress
  • Sitting for long periods of time supported improperly

Most of these causes may warrant a trip to your doctor or can be treated with at-home remedies.

Can Neck Pain Be A Sign of Something Serious?

While the causes above maybe, in some cases, serious, they usually are not. Mayo Clinic is a great resource to help you discover whether or not your symptoms are serious. However, there are times when the discomfort may be concerning.

Here are some reasons that may prove to be more severe:

  • Whiplash from accidents, or another neck injury
  • Heart attack combined with trouble breathing or nausea
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ruptured disc
  • Degeneration of cervical discs
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Meningitis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Bone Spurs
  • Cancer

While cancer is a rare occurrence, it’s still a possible reason for neck pain. If you’ve experienced any of these, see your doctor so they can review your medical history.

When Should I be Concerned About Neck Pain?

Most neck pain resolves by itself in about one week possibly two. This gives the muscles time to relax and repair. However, if it’s not resolved, or is significantly worse, you may need to be concerned.

Here are some symptoms that can help you determine when to see a doctor:

  • Swelling
  • Pain with no cause
  • Trouble with swallowing or breathing
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Pain in other parts of your body, like arms, hands, fingers, and so forth
  • Immobility of your neck
  • Fever

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your neck pain, you should consult your doctor to seek medical pain relief.

During an appointment with your doctor, there are several tests they do to diagnose the cause of your pain.

Your doctor might order:

  • CT scan
  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • Blood test

All of these tests assist the doctor in determining the cause of your pain and the best way to treat it.

How Can I Relieve My Neck Pain?

Neck pain causes a disruption in your life, making the most simple daily tasks challenging. Thankfully, pain-relief products abound the market making the treatment of neck pain accessible.

If you need relief, here are some common therapies.

OTC Medications

For minor instances of neck pain, OTC mediations like ibuprofen or acetaminophen should give you temporary relief. Follow the directions on the back of the bottle and never take more than the recommended amount.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors are doctors of the spine and can provide relief to neck pain. When you make an appointment with a chiropractor, they adjust your spine to bring comfort to your neck pain. Chiropractors are often sought after to help with whiplash due to car accidents.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants work to relax the muscles and relieve tension, stiffness, and muscle spasms in the neck. They are drugs prescribed by your doctor.

Braces

In order for your neck to heal, you may need to keep it still for a period. This could be via a neck brace or collar provided by your doctor. However, wearing it for too long could prove to be harmful.

Hot and Cold Therapy

One of the best ways to ease your discomfort from neck pain is by applying ice or hot packs to the source of the pain. The heating pad helps your circulation moving, getting fresh blood to the places of pain, and relaxing the soft tissues. Ice works the opposite way, reducing inflammation that might be causing the pain.

Surgery

In rare cases, surgery may be needed to reduce or eliminate your neck pain. Medical problems like herniated discs or spinal cord compression require surgery, but your doctor will give you all the information needed should it come to that.

Physical Therapy

Sometimes you need a little extra help with learning correct posture or ways to strengthen your neck. This is where a physical therapist can help. Meeting with a physical therapist will help you learn better ways to deal with your neck so you can avoid pain.

How to Avoid Neck Pain

Avoiding neck pain is crucial to making it doesn’t interfere with your daily life. If you suffer frequently from neck pain, here are some things you can do to avoid instances of pain.

Have good posture! Many common causes of neck pain are due to bad posture, so learning to sit correctly should fix this.

Take breaks from the computer. Looking down for long periods contribute to the stiffness of the neck, and keep your computer at eye level to avoid looking down.
Sleep well and change your posture or pillow if needed.

If you’re sensitive to neck pain, try not to carry heavy loads often. This puts more strain on areas that are weak, making you more susceptible to injury.

Neck Pain: Get Relief

Knowing the source of your neck pain is key to getting help and relief.

If you’re experiencing pain that’s interfering with your life, call our office today to schedule an appointment. You don’t have to live with neck pain!

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