One of the most complex and significant parts in the human body, the cervical spine is extremely unique. This is the only part of the spine that enjoys the complete flexibility of movement. With an irregular head weight distribution of 15 pounds or more, the cervical spine can experience severe stress which in turn causes severe or mild, burning or numbing sensation on your hand or neck.
In The Article
What causes Neck Pain?
It is very important to identify the causes of neck pain at the earliest as treatment might vary based on the condition.
Common Causes of Neck Pain :
- Imperfect or poor posture including awkward head position can also cause neck pain.
- Working tirelessly, sitting in the same place in the same posture for a long time without changing the head position.
- Working on the Desktop, Laptop or Smartphone for a long time or watching TV in an uncomfortable position.
- Placing the neck in an imperfect position, while sleeping, on the pillow, that is either too high or too flat or that doesn’t support your head can also lead to severe stress.
- Reading books while in bed or gritting the teeth can cause strain to the neck muscles resulting in mild or severe neck pain.
- Continuous workout or exercise that uses the upper body and arms or hands can also lead to neck pain in the long run.
- The injury caused due to prolonged driving, sports injuries or injuries due to wrong horse riding position.
- Wearing the wrong choice of helmets while riding two-wheelers can also aggravate pain in the neck.
Other Causes of Neck Pain :
- It can also result due to infections in the throat which can later cause swelling in the lymph node and thereby causing neck pain.
- Patients suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis are prone to suffer more from neck related problems.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that results in pain, swelling of the joints, and an outgrowth of bone that can occur along the edges of a bone. If this happens in the area around the neck, it can lead to chronic neck pain.
- It can be caused due to neck muscles and ligaments strains.
- Neck pain can result from Fibromyalgia. It is a more prevalent and constantly recurring disorder.
- Age is another factor which is not in our control. Once a person reaches mid-thirties or so, they are more susceptible to experience cervical Spondylosis or Osteoarthritis problems.
- This can lead to deterioration of the intervertebral discs adding stress to the joints.
- Neck pain may be a sign of serious health problems. So, seek medical concern if your neck ache is accomplished due to loss of power in arms or hands or shoulder pain.
- As we all are aware, certain bone diseases like Osteoporosis can make the bones weak. Though this kind of disease normally doesn’t affect the neck region problems in the future cannot be ruled out.
- Certain nutritional deficiencies can also cause neck pain and shoulder pain.
What are wear and tear in neck pain?
Neck and joint pains are caused due to wear and tear of aging. Commonly, the age-related condition of cervical spondylosis, which affects discs and joints in your neck cervical spine (neck arthritis). This develops from wear and tear of bones and cartilage.
Cervicalgia/Neck Pain Symptoms
Sometimes neck pain might be mild in nature. It could also turn into an acute problem which might restrict the movement of the person in future.
Common symptoms of neck pain:
- Stiff Neck
- Painful and difficult; free movement of the neck restricted.
- A tingling sensation in the neck.
- Lack of sensation in the neck region.
- Muscle and nerve roots connected to the head might get affected due to irritation in the neck
- If neck pain symptoms develop further, it might be lead to sleep difficulty.
- Sometimes sneezing and coughing can also aggravate the pain in the neck.
- Usually, caused due to necks flexion-extension motion which strains and pulls neck muscles and ligaments.
Neck Pain Diagnosis
Diagnosis is usually done after observing specific symptoms in the neck. Diagnosis involves methodical analysis of the background, scrutinizing the symptoms, assessment of the test results, and examining the possible causes. Effective treatment cannot be provided without proper diagnosis.
Neck Pain can be acute, sub-acute or chronic in nature. Acute pain normally lasts only for a short duration, typically for few weeks. Sub-acute pain lasts little longer while chronic pain lasts for more months altogether. If the neck pain is sub acute or chronic, then medical aid is necessary to control the pain.
Neck pain can also be a symptom of cervical spine condition. Precise diagnosis of the spinal cord is needed to find out the correct reason for the pain. To diagnose the root cause of the neck pain, doctors usually try to get to know the history of the patient as well as their medical background.
Doctors will also ask questions from that person to know regarding his/her occupation, nature of job, life style, sleeping habits, postures, any recent injuries, and any older injuries. This will help the doctors to understand if it is interconnected with neck pain or not. If so, they may suggest suitable remedies before prescribing medicines or recommend further medical tests for complete clarity.
After understanding the complete details of the person, doctors normally do the physical examination of the painful areas in and around the neck If the neck pain is severe or if it is repetitive, doctors usually advise for certain kind of tests to find out the main cause. Such tests include Blood tests, X-ray, CT Scan, Myelogram, MRI Scan, Bone scan or Electro diagnostic tests.
By conducting these tests, it will help the doctors to figure out the most likely cause of the pain and recommend for treatment accordingly.
Neck Pain and Dizziness
Dizziness is something that makes you feel unbalanced or makes you feel like you are losing your control. It gives a sensation of turning around or feeling giddy or getting a tendency to fall. As dizziness affects various sensory organs in the human body like eyes, ears, it might even cause fainting. Vertigo is one of the most common types of dizziness. Dizziness or Vertigo sporadically coexists with a neck injury. Dizziness related with neck movement is the common symptom for cervical vertigo. A migraine is also considered as a common cause of dizziness. There are multiple conditions that are related to dizziness, stiff neck, headache or pain.
Conditions related to the neck pain:
- Tension headache
- Cluster headache
- Head injury
- Brain tumor or infection
- Neck strain and so on
Conditions related to dizziness:
- Infection in the Ear
- Spinal Meningitis
- Type 1 and Type 2Diabetes
- Strain in the Muscles
- High blood pressure
Dizziness is not a disease to worry about, it is just a symptom that results due to several disorders. But if dizziness continues for a prolonged period of time, then it is advisable to take medical treatment at the earliest.
Neck Pain and Headache
Typically, all types of headaches have usual symptoms like severe pain, a feeling of sickness with a tendency to vomit, and allergic towards light and noise. But headaches can also result due to severe neck problems. Such headaches are also called as Neck Headaches. In medical terminology, it is called as ‘Cervicogenic Headaches’.
The main reason for a neck headache is abnormal functioning of the upper neck joints, neck muscles or nerves. Too much stress or pressure on the Neck joints can cause neck headaches or pain, if the neck is kept either too rigid or in an awkward position. According to research, neck headache accounts for up to 22% of various types of headaches. Sometimes cervicogenic headaches are incorrectly diagnosed either as a migraine headache or as a cluster headache. A migraine or Cluster headaches actually originate in the head.
- Migraine headaches mostly affect one side of the head only.
- It is usually accompanied with nausea and disturbed vision.
- Cluster headaches are extremely severe form of headaches.
- It is relatively short in duration but tends to occur again over a period of time.
- It is also limited to one side of the head.
- Due to incorrect diagnosis, many people do not receive a proper treatment for the Cervicogenic headache disorder.
- Ascertaining the outset of a headache is one of the most disputable and tough procedures to carry out.
A stiff neck is usually noticed by pain and trouble in moving the neck while trying to turn the head to one side or the other. A stiff neck in most cases is the result of weakened muscles. Nuchal rigidity or Neck stiffness are some of the terms generally used to report one’s condition when he or she experiences an irritation or pain while trying to turn or move their neck.
Causes of Stiff Neck:
- Strain in the muscles, disorders in the cervical spine, sprain, bacterial infections like Meningitis, hemorrhagic strokes like subarachnoid hemorrhage are some of the reasons that can cause a stiff neck.
- Infections like osteomyelitis, a tumor in the cervical spine, torticollis and so on.
Stiff neck has become quite common these days and people are very much aware of the agony and stress resulting due to a stiff neck. In many cases, they do away with the pain or the stiffness automatically within one week or so. For interim relief, some even put ice or opt for heat therapy in the problematic area.
Sometimes even smooth stretching helps alleviate the stiffness. Some people do use cervical collar to prevent a stiff neck and it is not recommended. Cultivate the habit of having a good posture. It can always help in arresting aches and pains in the long run. If there is no solace even after a week or so, then go meet a doctor without any further delay. Take the help of expert physiotherapists and get to know appropriate exercises specifically related to a stiff neck. After learning the exercises, it has to be practiced regularly at home or office to maintain neck flexibility.
Neck Pain Treatments
If the neck pain continues beyond a week or if it is terrible, then medical attention needs to be sought without further delay. Treatment for neck pain depends on the diagnosis. Based on the diagnosis, doctors usually refer the patient to a specialist for further treatment. There are different types of treatment for neck pain.
Treatments for neck pain
- Heat Therapy or Ice Therapy
- Using Neck collar
- Medicines to arrest pain
- Antibiotics if there is any infection
- Acupuncture give relief to neck and shoulder pain
- Cortisone is used to treat neck pain
- Doctors inject the steroid directly into the site of the inflammation in the body where it is reddened, swollen or painful
Proper Treatment at the Hospital is recommended if the condition is severe.
Neck Pain Relief-Yoga and Exercises
Yoga is not just a regular exercise but a self-discipline mechanism that is commonly followed across the world for better health and mind relaxation. Yoga is more than 10,000 years old and this includes various forms of exercise including meditation, practicing various body postures, breath control and so on.
Today’s lifestyle creates a lot of stress and tension that affects one’s health. Especially, our nature of job today requires a lot of sitting in front of the computer and this definitely causes strain in the neck and shoulder.
Every day does spend some time to stand or walk with the correct posture instead of sitting in one place continuously. Always move your neck and shoulder forward and back, side to side, and in circles at least once.
There are different yoga poses that have remedial effects on the neck as well. Some of the simple asanas or yoga postures are easy to follow and can help in Neck pain relief
Simple Asanas or Yoga postures are:
- Balasana. This pose is also called as Child Pose
- Marjari Asana. This pose is also called as Cat Pose
- Natrajasana. This pose is also called as Reclining Twist
- Viparita Karani Asana. This pose is also called as Legs-up-the-wall Pose
- Utthita Trikonasana. This pose is also called as Extended Triangle Pose
- Savasana. This pose is also called as Corpse Pose
It is not advisable to do Yoga on your own rather take necessary training and start practicing it under the guidance of a teacher before doing it at home. Though Yoga is not a substitute for medicine, practicing Yoga really helps to strengthen both the body and mind and can help to relieve the pain in the neck and shoulder.
Neck Pain-Home Remedies
There are many powerful remedies that can be done at home to overcome neck pain. Some of them are highlighted below
- Applying ice on the affected area will help to reduce the irritation and ease out the pain.
- Heat therapy is another method. Using warm water on the affected portion will help to reduce soreness as well as the suffering from pain.
- Keep the computer monitor at eye level.
- Always sit straight. Avoid sitting in a slanted position.
- Softly massage the painful areas.
- Try to sleep without a pillow or with a special neck pillow
- Keep moving your body on regular basis, but avoid wrenching.
- Using Apple cider vinegar or Epsom salt bath can also help you get instant pain relief
- Apart from this, there are many exercises that actually help to reduce neck pain. These exercises can be practiced at home itself.
These remedies can help you avoid neck pain
Exercises at home
Turn your head down or to the side while you are working on the computer. Steadily rotate your neck in a circular motion, clockwise as well as anti-clockwise. This will help to stretch out the troubled muscles. You may experience slight pain initially, but it will eventually help your neck to loosen up and heal. Many of these exercises will help to strengthen and stabilize your neck muscle and upper back. It also helps to reduce stress.
Neck Pain Pillows/Other supports
Bed pillow that you use daily to sleep could be one vital reason for terrible neck pain. Using the right pillow which always helps to mitigate neck pain. There are different neck pillows
They are available in different shape, size, and texture:
- Some pillows are packed with cotton and some are packed with feathers.
- Though most of the pillows are fashionable many are not actually pleasant.
- You need a pillow with the right shape, sufficient firmness, and packed with the right materials.
- The right pillow is important to keep the neck in a suitable position with fair arrangement in a straight line during sleep
- If you are not using the right pillow, your neck will undergo severe pressure.
- Ergonomic pillows are commonly liked by the people.
- The key aspect is to get a pillow with the correct height and firmness based on your size and sleeping habit.
- Large body pillow supports the head, upper back, neck, and knees.
- Before deciding the pillow, you need to be clear about your own sleeping habits.
- To avoid neck pain, you need a pillow that matches your sleeping style.
- Sleeping position is one of the key factors that require special attention.
- Wrong sleeping position can cause neck pain that could even lead to a migraine.
- The different sleeping styles are: sleeping on the back or on the side, sleeping on the stomach or sitting up.
- But sleeping on the stomach is not advised.
- Better knowledge on sleeping positions can reduce the pain.
- Usage of Good Pillow helps to reduce the pain, gives pleasant sleep, and reduces stress.