Consider A Water Pillow
A poor pillow can cause constant pain, hinders getting a good nights rest, and it gets worse in the morning. It is recommended to try using a water-based pillow to modify the firmness. This can be adjusted to your preferences. More water means a firmer pillow, whereas less water results in softer pillows.
Visit A Physical Therapist
If your pain and stiffness persist for more than a day or two, or if it refuses to respond to your treatment choices, it is time to seek professional help.
Neck stiffness can be a symptom of bigger issues such as a serious injury.
Here at PRO~PT, we know all about muscle stiffness and how to help alleviate it. Our team of physical therapists is here to help you find relief from the pain and stiffness. With well over a dozen locations all over the Central Valley area, we are close and convenient.
We work with our patients to help them achieve the most pain-free, high-quality lifestyle possible.
Will I Need Surgery For Neck Pain
Most patients with neck pain respond well to non-surgical treatments, so cervical spine surgery is seldom needed to treat it. In fact, less than 5% of neck pain patients need surgery.
Surgery is typically a last resort, explains Dr. Penhollow, unless it’s an acute disc herniation compression on the spinal cord where it’s a neurosurgical emergency, such as when someone experiences loss of bowel or bladder control, or extreme weakness in the limbs where decompression of the cord is imperative.
You may need cervical spine surgery if:
- Non-surgical treatment is not helping. That is, you’ve tried a combination of medication, chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage, exercises, and more, and you’re still in pain.
- Your pain is worsening. A pinched nerve in your neck called cervical radiculopathy can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness in your shoulders or down your arms. If your pain is worsening, surgery can remove the source of pressure on your nerves .
- Your spinal cord is being compressed. Certain neck conditions can put pressure on your spinal cord. You may experience pain or stiffness, problems with balance, or have difficulties with fine motor skills.
- You experience progressive neurological symptoms. If you are feeling numbness, tingling and weakness in your arms and legs and/or are having trouble with balance or walking.
What Kinds of Surgery Are Used For Neck Pain?
There are two common types of cervical spine surgeries performed to relieve neck pain:
Recommended Reading: Slitting Wrists Success Rate
Neck Pain Tip : Get Out Of Your Slump
Bad posture is a major contributor to neck pain. Think about your posture every time you are sitting, standing, or lifting. Always try to keep your head and neck straight and make sure your back is supported. When you sit at your desk, for example, your computer should be at eye level and your chair should be right up against your back . Your mouse should be positioned low enough so that you don’t have to continually reach for it. When you go to pick something up, don’t lean forward. Instead, bend from your knees and keep your back straight, which will also help protect against low back pain.
Can Neck Pain Be Prevented
The best way to prevent neck pain is to keep your spine flexible and your muscles strong. You can do this with regular exercise 30 minutes on most days. Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day to stretch.
Its important to develop good posture especially when youre sitting, at work or driving. Try not to slouch or to poke your chin out. A supportive pillow is also important to prevent neck pain.
Don’t Miss: Can Stiff Neck Cause Nausea
How Long Does Neck Pain Last
How long neck pain lasts depends on a variety of factors. This includes what kind of injury caused the acute neck painfor example, a car accident, a sports injury or a muscle pull from working outsideand how you respond to the injury.
Many times, symptoms can resolve over a period of months if you stop doing the offending behavior, says Dr. Bang. Neck pain from car accidents can last a long time. But if you dont get in another car wreck, your pain will typically go away over a few months. However, if you dont change a habit that causes neck pain, like using a computer monitor poorly, its going to last.
If pain persists and gets in the way of your daily activities, or any treatment you try doesnt seem to be working, further discussion might be necessary. If you tried some things on your own and after two months its not gone away, then its probably time to see your doctor to figure out if theres an underlying issue or if theres some behavior you need to change.
How Do I Know If I Have Recurrent Or Chronic Neck Pain
Such pain is characterized mainly by repeated periods of pain that come and go over weeks, months, and years.
The intensity of such pain might fluctuate. Most of the time, it can be continuous with the feeling of general soreness and stiffness in the neck and surrounding muscles.
Diagnosis is made based on the patients history, including symptoms, age, history, physical activity, assessment, and not on x-rays or MRI. Often, images can be used to rule out any other conditions such as fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve compression.
The treatment will depend on the outcome of the assessment we did. We usually use a variety of treatment methods in a management program to provide best practice management.
Read Also: Lidocaine Long Term Side Effects
Help For Chronic Neck Pain
Additionally, neuroimaging has shown chronic pain is related to regions in the brain for cognition and emotions, therefore, it is important to address any emotional problems that may be related to chronic pain as a multifactoral approach. Furthermore, certain nutritional supplements may benefit chronic pain individuals with multiple symptoms as discussed in the fibromyalgia article.
Considering the progression from acute to chronic, it is vitally important to treat any injury as soon as possible to prevent this type of obstruction and a chronic condition. Once chronic pain has developed, ongoing inflammation is perpetuated by poor neck posture, ergonomics, and when sleeping contributing to a repetitive type injury.
Neck Strain: Causes And Remedies
A neck strain occurs when one or more fibers in a neck muscle or tendon stretches too far and tears. This injury, also called a pulled muscle, can vary in intensity depending on the tears size and location. While a neck strain typically heals on its own within a few days or weeks, the pain may range from mild and achy to sharp and debilitating.
Sometimes the terms neck strain and neck sprain are used interchangeably. While a sprain is an injury to a ligament , the symptoms of pain and stiffness felt in both a strain and sprain are typically similar and resolve on their own before an official diagnosis is sought.
The neck muscles and other soft tissues play important roles in the cervical spines movements, stability, and function. ReadNeck Muscles and Other Soft Tissues[
More than 20 muscles are connected in the neck. These muscles work together to help support the heads upright position and facilitate movements of the head, neck, jaw, upper back, and shoulders
A healthy muscle is comprised of numerous muscle fibers. Within each of these fibers are bundles of myofibrils that contain contractile proteins, which perform the actual contractions for muscle movements. When the muscle overexerts or stretches too far, small tears can form in the muscle, tendon, or connective tissue between the muscle and tendon, which is usually the weakest part.
Also Check: Lidocaine Patch For Sciatica
What Are The Symptoms Of Back And Neck Pain
Symptoms associated with back pain may include:
Dull, burning, or sharp pain in your back. The pain can be confined to a single spot or cover a large area
Leg numbness or tingling above or below your knee
Stiffness or achiness that occurs anywhere along your spine
Sharp, shooting pain that radiates from your low back to your buttocks, down the back of your thigh, and into your calf and toes
Consistent ache in the middle or lower part of your back, especially after standing or sitting for an extended period
Loss of bladder and bowel control, with weakness in both legs, are symptoms of a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms associated with neck pain can be:
Arm numbness or tingling
Sharp shooting pains or a dull aches in your neck
Pain that occurs suddenly in your back or neck, due to an injury, is considered to be acute pain. Acute pain comes on quickly and may leave sooner than chronic back or neck pain. This type of pain should not last more than 6 weeks.
Pain that may come on quickly or slowly and lingers for weeks, 3 months or greater, is considered to be chronic pain. Chronic pain is less common than acute pain.
When To See A Doctor For Neck Strain
For most episodes of neck strain, self-care and avoiding any additional strain to the neck is enough to manage symptoms until the injury is healed. Medical attention should be sought if the initial injury was part of a major trauma , has worsened or not improved within a few days, or is accompanied by troubling symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in the arm, weakness in the arms or legs, or difficulty with balance.
Recommended Reading: Cutting Veins Your Wrist
What Are The Complications Of Neck And Back Pain
Loss or productivity: Back pain is the most common reason for disability in working adults.
Nerve damage: If your back pain is from a herniated disc, pressure on the spinal nerves may cause a variety of problems, such as weakness, numbness, or severe shooting pain that travels from the back to the leg.
Depression: Back or neck pain can disrupt all aspects of a persons life: work, physical exercise, social activities, and sleep. The anxiety and stress caused by the change in mobility and pain can lead to depression.
Weight gain: Loss of mobility and inability to exercise can lead to weight gain and the loss of muscle strength.
It is a good idea to see a health care provider if you have numbness or tingling, or if your pain is severe and does not improve with medication and rest. If you have difficulty urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, you should call your health care provider right away.
What Causes A Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve can be caused by several conditions including spondylosis, stenosis, bulging discs or herniated disc. This can be caused by prolonged non-ideal postures or trauma. However, most of the time pinched nerves are caused by age-related degeneration of the bones and discs that make up the vertebrae . When this happens, the discs decrease in height and this can cause the narrowing of spaces where the nerves exit which can compress the nerves. This degeneration can also lead to bone spurs which can compress on the nerves.
- Weakness in arm
- Can vary with changes in head and neck position
Note: In my experience, this condition can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms could simply be elbow pain or shoulder pain.
Many times, a patient will come to me with a diagnosis of elbow tendonitis, when actually the root cause of the symptoms is an irritation of a nerve in the neck. As you can see, this condition can be easily misdiagnosed.
Is there a long-term solution?
As mentioned previously, the most common cause of this is from age related causes. We cannot reverse this, but we can control our posture, which can put us a better position to decrease the likelihood of compressing nerve. Research shows that improving posture can provide sustainable relief.
In this article well focus on exercises and stretches you can do at home.
Read Also: Kujala Anterior Knee Pain Scale
Sleeping And Lying Down
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary.
- If you’ve always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what is most comfortable for you.
- Use a back support at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
- Use a firm pillow that supports the curve of your neck.
- Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest.
- When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
Osteoarthritis And Neck Pain
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that affects many people. Its incidence increases as we grow older. Osteoarthritis can result from:
- previous joint injury
- genetic predisposition .
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness and weakening of the muscles. Commonly affected areas include the neck, lower back, hands, hip and knee. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but it can be managed well with exercise. Keeping the joints mobile and the muscles strong are the best ways to manage osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis in the joints of the neck commonly results in local neck pain. If the upper joints of the neck are affected, the neck pain may develop into a headache as well. Osteoarthritis may occasionally cause some irritation of the nerves as they exit the neck. If you experience shooting pains down your arm, or numbness or lack of power in your arm or hand, then see your doctor, as you may need further investigations, such as an x-ray.
You can manage neck pain related to osteoarthritis with:
- advice and education on how to care for and self-manage your neck
- pain management speak to your doctor about taking pain relieving medication or using a heat pack to relieve neck pain
- gentle active mobilisation exercises to maintain neck movement
- gentle exercises focussing on retraining and maintaining muscle function
- gentle soft-tissue and joint mobilisation
- posture exercises
- strengthening exercises.
Don’t Miss: Prescription Strength Lidocaine Patch
Stiff Neck Remedies To Try
For minor, common causes of neck pain, try these simple remedies:
Apply heat or ice to the painful area
Use ice for the first 48 to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with warm showers, hot compresses or a heating pad. Be sure not to fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place to avoid skin injuries.
Take over-the-counter pain relievers
Doctors recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
However, avoid jerking or painful activities. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation.
Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas. When doing this, communication is key. Have your partner try a variety of techniques until they land on one that feels good.
Youll want them to say, How does this feel? Do you want more or less pressure? Thats what a massage therapist will do, says Dr. Bang. Then keep adapting until you both find the sweet spot.
No matter what technique you choose, however, he advises that any massage movements should be directed toward the heart. This matches the way the blood flows in your veins, the bluish-purple lines visible under your skin. Too much pressure going in the wrong direction, away from your heart, has the potential to damage a valve.
Make sure you have the proper mattress or pillow
Try sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.
Use a soft neck collar
Using Heat And Ice Packs
Applying a heat pack to your neck can help to ease pain. You can use a microwavable wheat bag, a hot-water bottle or a reusable heat pad which you can buy from chemists and sports shops. An ice pack, or even a bag of frozen peas, can also be helpful.
Make sure you wrap heat or ice packs in a towel and dont put them directly onto your neck to avoid burning or irritating your skin. You might want to consider applying a heat pack to your neck before and after exercise to help soothe the muscles.
You May Like: How To Kill Yourself By Cutting Your Wrist
First Steps To Relieve Neck Pain
The causes of routine strain-and-sprain neck pain vary. If you wake up with a “crick” in your neck, it’s probably the sharp muscle contractions known as spasms, caused by a muscle strain. A sprain, in contrast, happens in ligamentsthe tough tissues that connect bones together. Alternatively, a tendonthe tissue that attaches muscles to bonesmay become inflamed, causing tendinitis. Basic self-help takes care of most routine neck pain flare-ups:
- Use cold to numb the early acute pain and reduce inflammation.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers to control mild to moderate pain. These include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen , naproxen , or aspirin.
- Use a neck collar for short periods to rest the painful muscles and tissues and ease your discomfort. “Collars have a bad reputation from people overusing them and getting weak muscles, but used a few hours here and there they can be very useful,” Dr. Shmerling says.
- Apply heateither with a heating pad or by using a warm whirlpool bath if one is availableafter a day or two, once the acute pain calms down.
Should you go to a chiropractor to get your neck “cracked”? Dr. Shmerling counsels against sudden, strenuous manipulation of the neck. “It may be fine for low back pain, but avoid it for neck pain,” he says.