When You’re Up to Your Neck in Pain

By March 30, 2016About Pain, Chronic Pain

Neck Pain

 Your neck is a well-engineered structure of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons that can support the full weight of your head and move in several directions. This combination of complexity and mobility can make your neck susceptible to pain and injury. Poor posture, arthritis and wear-and-tear of age can also lead to neck pain, which is one of the top five causes of pain worldwide. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, more than 30 percent of the population is affected by neck pain and 15 percent experience chronic neck pain—defined as mild to severe pain that lasts more than three months—at some point in their lives. Chronic neck pain can have a range of sensations, such as burning, sharp, dull or tingling; can cause neck stiffness; and can spread to the shoulders and arms.

Simple everyday activities such as sleeping in the wrong position, setting a computer monitor too high, hunching over a smartphone, or doing manual labor or repetitive work can cause the type of muscle strain that can lead to bouts of chronic neck pain. In addition, the cartilage between the vertebrae in your neck can deteriorate with age, which often leads to the formation of pain-causing bone spurs. Herniated discs or spinal stenosis—the narrowing of the open spaces within your spine—can lead to painful nerve compression in the neck. Whiplash can cause painful damage to the soft tissues of the neck. And both psychological strain and smoking have also been known to trigger chronic or recurring neck pain.

What’s the diagnosis?

To diagnose chronic neck pain, your pain specialist will begin with your medical history. During your physical examination, your physician will check for tenderness, numbness and muscle weakness in your neck as well as gauge your range of motion as you move your head back, forward and side to side. A range of tests can be used to pinpoint the cause of your pain. Imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI can check for structural problems or nerve impingement. If your physician suspects your pain may be related to a pinched nerve, an electromyography can verify the speed of nerve conduction and whether specific nerves are functioning properly. Blood tests can be used to rule out inflammatory or infectious conditions that could be causing or contributing to your neck pain.

Finding the right treatment plan

Paying attention to your posture, updating your mattress, stretching your muscles regularly and making sure your workstation is ergonomically sound are some of the things you can do to reduce or prevent chronic neck pain. For pain that persists, your pain specialist can use steroid injections to deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to irritated nerves. Another treatment option is transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), which relieves pain through low-voltage electric stimulation that travels along nerve fibers. If the root cause of the pain is spinal stenosis, nerve block or facet block injections can treat the inflamed areas. With trigger point injections, a pain specialist can deliver a local anesthetic to relax painful knots of muscle, or trigger points, in your upper back and shoulder areas that could be causing referred pain in your neck. Complementary alternative medicine (CAM) options for neck pain include massage and acupuncture, both of which have proved successful in the reduction of neck pain.

If you’d like to learn more about options for addressing your neck pain, we encourage you to call Pain Management and Injury Relief at (877) 724-6349 to make an appointment today.

REFERENCES:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/06/26/pain-in-the-neck-passing-crick-or-chronic-agony

http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/pain/Pages/chronic-neck-pain.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neck-pain/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20028772

http://www.everydayhealth.com/neck-pain/managing-chronic-neck-pain.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/trigger-point-injection

http://www.iasp pain.org/files/Content/ContentFolders/GlobalYearAgainstPain2/MusculoskeletalPainFactSheets/NeckPain_Final.pdf

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18 Comments

  • That’s really good to know that finding a one size fits all solution for pain isn’t really possible. Just like you mentioned, I had a friend who would often complain of back pain and getting a new mattress was the key to helping him feel better. I’ll have to try and narrow down my symptoms and then talk to a doctor from there to try and manage the pain. Thanks for the really informative article!

  • I think it’s interesting that if you put your computer monitor too high, then it can lead to bouts of chronic neck pain. My wife has had chronic pain in her neck and back, and she has to go to treatment every week to alleviate it. I will have to try keeping good posture to try and prevent myself from getting it.

  • This is some great information, and I appreciate your suggestion to pay attention to your posture when having problems with neck pain. I recently started at a desk job, and I’ve been having problems with my neck since then. I think it’s because of the way I sit in front of the computer, so I’ll try and adjust that to see if it helps. Thanks for the great post!

  • That’s crazy that neck pain is one of the top causes of pain in the world. Just to think that 30% of the population experience neck pain. Sad to say, my dad is one of those people. He’s trying to find a way to take care of it.

  • Very interesting article here.

  • Chronic pain is something I’ve had for the majority of my life and I really want to find a solution to end it. I like your tips about paying attention to your posture, updating your mattress, stretching your muscles regularly, and making sure your workstation is ergonomically sound. I bet there is a treatment plan for everyone and you just have to talk to a doctor to find out what’s best for you and your situation.

  • Jalu Sakti says:

    I’ve heard of steroid shots to help stop neck pain, but I’ve never heard of the TENS electric shock treatment that you mentioned! My wife has had neck pains for nearly 2 months, now, and she is really struggling to stay positive after all the hurting she’s been through. I really want to find her a treatment that can help relieve the pain, and the TENS treatment might just be the answer. I’ll have to talk to a chiropractor and see if they can do it for us.

  • krystal s says:

    I’ve experienced neck pain for the last two years. Finally realized the reason is sitting way below the monitor of my computer at work.

  • Ben Allen says:

    I appreciate the information on neck pain and what to do. I agree that your neck and head are a very complex and sensitive area that can cause a lot of problems for you if you are not treating them right. My mom has been experience some minor neck pain recently, I will be sure to share this information with her because I think she needs to get it taken care of.

  • This is really informative stuff. In my experience as a chiropractor, neck pain and even more so chronic neck pain paralyzes our daily lives in such a way that it prevents us from properly addressing our responsibilities since we use our head to navigate our way through them. When you feel a certain sensation around your neck, better not wait for it to worsen by stretching it out especially when you have stayed in a certain position for a long period of time, which we often do not notice. Stretch and rotate your neck in all directions to stretch out the muscle and ligaments supporting your head. If it persists, better check with your local physician or chiropractor to help you out to prevent major injury.

  • Baxter Abel says:

    I really like what you said about how much your posture can help in pain management with your back. I also like what you said about the importance of stretching your back in order to ease back pain. I’ve also heard that switching between sitting and standing if you have a desk job every hour or so can help avoid problems than constant sitting can cause with back pain.

  • Raisa Delima says:

    Thanks for talking about the things a pain specialist will try to help you manage neck pain, such as exercises and steroid injections. I want to take my husband to a neck pain specialist, but I don’t know where to go. I guess I could find a few potential options, ask about the process you described, and compare what they say to this article. Maybe that would help me see who would be a good fit for us.

  • Ivy Baker says:

    I like that you pointed out that you need to pay attention to your posture. It does seem like your mattress can make a huge difference with that. It might be something that you should talk to your head and neck surgeon about how you should sleep after surgery.

  • Danni Black says:

    I really like your tip about making sure that you find the right treatment plan when it comes to dealing with your chronic pain. I have been having pain in my neck for years and it has seems to get worse over the past few weeks. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind while I’m looking at my options. Thank you for sharing!

  • This is a great explanation of everyday ways people are doing damage to their necks. So many of our clients struggle with the exact same things!

  • Randy says:

    After reading your article, I know that I’m doing the right thing by taking breaks every few hours stretching my body. It does reduce my back and neck pains. Thanks for sharing this great post!

  • Marcus says:

    I had no idea that neck pain could also spread to the shoulders and arms. It is important to understand that doing some research can help you find the best way to deal with your neck pain. My wife has been complaining about neck pain and we want to make sure we find the best the best treatment to avoid further complications.

  • I have problem with my neck when getting up in the morning a few days ago & the pain is worse now. Thanks to your post, I think the pain may be resulted from sleeping in wrong position, I will pay attention to my posture more carefully. Many thanks for your sharing!

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