Have you ever got up in the morning with an aching neck or had a sudden twist in the neck while playing? Neck pain is a debilitating condition that most of you might have experienced at least once in your lifetime. However with simple precautionary tips you can prevent your neck injury and thus, the pain. But before we get into this, let’s know the working of the neck to help you understand the causes of neck pain.
The neck acts as a supporting structure that connects the skull to the torso. Made up of bones, ligaments, and muscles, it helps you to move your head flexibly. However, a slight injury, abnormality or inflammation of the neck might cause pain taking the hell out of you. Right from the way you sleep to spending long hours in front of the computer, your everyday routine takes a toll on your neck. Here’s everything you should know about neck pain.
Neck pain can be caused due to various factors such as –
Excessive muscle strain: What you do on a daily basis can strain your muscles, which in turn cause neck pain. These include –
Injury: Factors such as car accidents, sports and falls makes your neck vulnerable to injury. They cause the ligaments and muscles to dislocate or result in a fracture, damaging the spinal cord. Also, a sudden jerk of the head can lead to whiplash (a condition affecting your neck). Here are 5 ways bad posture can make you unhealthy.
Diseases: Neck pain can be caused due to an underlying disease of the neck or diseases around it.
Read about standing desks – good or bad?
The tests that are usually recommended to detect the underlying cause of the neck pain include –
Blood tests: To check for inflammation in the body leading to neck pain. Read in detail about various blood tests.
X-rays: It is used to detect any abnormality in the spinal cord such as narrowing of the space in the spinal column, fractures, etc. and thus, get treated accordingly.
CT scan: This diagnostic test is used to detect injuries, fractures, tumors or infections that can cause neck pain.
MRI: Here’s everything you should know about MRI
Electromyography: The test determines the health of the muscles and the nerves responsible for the muscle function. It s commonly used to test pain, numbness and tingling sensation.
The treatment for neck pain is usually dependent on the exact cause of it and the severity of the pain. In case of minor injuries or pain, your doctor might recommend ointments while for severe pain injections or even surgery might be recommended.
Neck collar: Also known as a neck brace, it has been used since ages to relieve neck pain. It lowers the pressure on the neck by decreasing the motion of the neck right after an injury.
Traction: If the neck pain is due to cervical spondylosis, this approach renders effective results. It is a conservative treatment practice in which external force is applied to the compressed area.
Medications: The commonly used drugs to treat neck pain include anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. Also, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, and even corticosteroid injections might be recommended depending upon the underlying cause of the condition.
- Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen
- Pain relievers like acetaminophen
Surgery: If the neck pain is due to an injury of the spinal cord or inflammation of nerve roots, a surgical procedure might be needed to treat the underlying cause of the condition.
Alternative therapies: Apart from medications, there are few alternative therapies that play a crucial role in providing relief from neck pain. These include acupuncture, chiropractic approach and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).
Here are 8 ayurvedic treatments to treat joint pain.
Neck pain caused to bad posture during sleep or due to sudden twitching of the muscles while exercising. Although there might be many causes, neck pain due to external factors (not internal inflammation or infection) can be relieved at home. Here are some home care measures you can try–
Hot shower: Warm water soothes your aching muscles and moving your head around helps stretch out the muscles beating the pain. Hence, take a hot shower when you wake up with a stiff neck.
Ice packs: This approach numbs the neck pain and also reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels. So if your neck pain results due to swelling of the area, apply an ice pack for relieving pain.
Yoga: If the neck pain is caused by long hours of sitting in the same posture or a rough night of sleep, yoga is the best measure to deal with it. Here is detailed explanation on the 7 simple yoga asanans to relieve neck pain.
Towel roll: It acts as a very effective and gentle massaging tool that helps relieve the pain in your neck. Here’s how you can get rid of the neck pain with a rolled up towel.
Exercises: Not all, but some exercises can help you out in dealing with a neck and shoulder pain. These include side bending, front neck muscles and rotation range-of-motion. To know in detail about these exercises, go though this link.