Wednesday, June 15, 2022

What To Do If You Have Bad Neck Pain

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Physical therapy

If youre experiencing neck pain due to arthritis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy for neck arthritis entails doing specific exercises to help strengthen and stretch weak or strained muscles. Physical therapy can improve range of motion. Sessions and programs vary in length and frequency and are tailored to your condition.

The foundation of what were trying to do in physical therapy for the neck is often to help improve posture and the way people move, says Dr. Milani. Exercises in physical therapy tend to be focused on strengthening muscles of the back and neck, which puts less strain on structures of the cervical spine.

Youll do exercises during physical therapy and get instructions on ones to do at home.

Regular Physical Activity at Home

You may feel like you dont want to move when your neck hurts. But being inactive may increase stiffness, which can cause you to lose even more mobility. Aches and pains tend to respond better to continued movement than rest, says Dr. Milani. Exercise is often the foundation of treatment.

Exercises that involve stretching, strengthening, and improving range of motion can help reduce pain and keep your neck limber. You want to move gently and smoothly when doing neck exercises, not jerk your neck or make sudden movements. You may feel discomfort at first. Stop if any exercise increases your neck pain.

What To Expect At Your Office Visit

Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your neck pain, including how often it occurs and how much it hurts.

Your provider will probably not order any tests during the first visit. Tests are only done if you have symptoms or a medical history that suggests a tumor, infection, fracture, or serious nerve disorder. In that case, the following tests may be done:

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:

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How Is Neck Pain Treated

Treatments could include medications called muscle relaxants, physical therapy, a padded neck collar, or traction.

In rare situations, you may need shots of cortisone or even surgery.

With treatment, your neck will usually stop hurting in a few days. Use medicines like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to ease pain. Put an ice pack on your neck for the first 2 to 3 days to help lower swelling. After that, use moist heat, like a hot shower or a heating pad, to help it heal. There are also exercises you can do at home to gently stretch your neck muscles.

You can also visit a chiropractor or get a neck massage for short-term relief.

Sharp Stabbing And Shooting Neck Pains Are Usually False Alarms

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Sharp neck pain is not in itself a red flag. Believe it or not there is no common worrisome cause of neck pain that is indicated by a sharp quality. In fact, oddly, sharp pains are actually a bit reassuring, despite how they feel. In isolation with no other obvious problem they usually indicate that you just have a temporary, minor source of irritation in the cervical spine. Serious causes of neck pain like infections, tumours, and spinal cord problems tend to grind you down with throbbing pains, not stab you.

Sharp, shooting pains are mostly neurological false alarms about relatively trivial musculoskeletal troubles: your brain reacting over-protectively to real-but-trivial irritations in and around the spine. The brain takes these much more seriously than it really needs to, but evolution has honed us to be oversensitive in this way. Thats not to say that the brain is always over-reacting, but it usually is. Most of the time, a sharp pain is a warning you can ignore.

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Neck Pain Range Of Symptoms

Neck pain can range from being minor and easily ignored to excruciating and interfering with daily activities, such as the ability to dress, concentrate, or sleep. Sometimes neck pain can lead to a stiff neck and reduced range of motion.

The duration of neck pain is commonly classified as follows:

  • Acute. Pain that lasts less than 4 weeks.
  • Subacute. Pain that lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic. Pain that lasts 3 or more months.

See Chronic Neck Pain Causes

Neck pain may be sharp and located in one spot, or it might feel less intense but spread across a broader region. Sometimes the pain gets referred up to the head or accompanies a headache. Other times it can be accompanied by muscle spasms in the neck, upper back, or around the shoulder blade. Less commonly, shock-like pain or tingling may radiate down into the shoulder, arm, and/or hand.

What Can I Do To Relieve Neck Pain At Home

Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend steps you can take at home to relieve neck pain. These may include:

  • Using heat or ice packs.
  • Doing gentle stretches or exercises.
  • Taking over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain and inflammation such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Resting.

Long-term strategies to reduce neck pain include:

  • Quit smoking. Smoking damages bone structure and slows healing.
  • Lose weight if you are obese.
  • Reduce your stress level. Walk, meditate, get a massage, try a yoga class, exercise.
  • Do exercises that strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles.

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Simple Changes Can Have Big Results

If you have neck pain, then you may benefit from physical therapy to help decrease your pain and improve your neck range of motion and mobility. Your physical therapist can tell you what you need to do to help you return to your normal activities. And they can also tell you what you should avoid if you have neck pain.

When treating your neck pain, you need to be active in your treatment, and you should stop doing certain things that may be causing your neck pain or things that may be leading to unnecessary worry and anxiety about your pain. Avoiding certain activities can be an important component of managing your cervical pain.

When neck pain strikes, check in with your healthcare provider and then visit your physical therapist to learn how to treat it. Below, you can learn about some of the things to stop doing while managing your neck pain.

How Long Does Neck Pain Last

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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.

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When To See A Doctor For A Stiff Neck

If a stiff neck has not shown improvement after a week, it should be checked by a doctor. Also, regardless of how long it has lasted, a stiff neck accompanied by any red flag symptomssuch as a fever, headache, nausea or vomiting, or unexplained sleepinessshould be seen by a medical professional immediately.

See What Is Causing My Neck Pain and Headache?

Posture And Sleeping Position

Holding your neck in an awkward position for a prolonged time can lead to strains in the muscles and tendons of your neck and shoulders.

Some of the postures and activities that commonly contribute to neck and shoulder pain are:

  • sleeping on too high a pillow or a stack of pillows
  • grinding or clenching your teeth at night
  • sitting at a computer or over a phone with your neck strained forward or tilted up
  • suddenly jerking your neck during exercise

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Osteoarthritis In The Neck

Osteoarthritis in the neck is the degeneration of joints, vertebrae, and discs in the cervical portion of the spine. With less padding between them, vertebrae may rub against each other. That can cause tiny bone fragments to break off and float in the synovial fluid .

Sometimes this process stimulates the growth of bony projections along the edges called bone spurs, or osteophytes. Since the padding is now thinner, the vertebrae become closer to each other. That leaves less room for the spine nerves that stick out from the spinal cord.

Symptoms of neck osteoarthritis range from none to pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Osteoarthritis in the neck pain tends to worsen after activity. Complications such as loss of coordination can happen if the spinal cord becomes pinched.

What Are The Most Common Nonsurgical Treatments For Neck Pain

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If you are experiencing chronic pain , it is important to seek medical attention for further evaluation and treatment. Treatments for neck pain vary, depending on the cause and duration of the neck pain you are experiencing. Many neck pain patients find relief in using one or a combination of these therapies. The most common treatments include:

Medications: Both over-the-counter and prescription medications may help manage neck pain, reduce inflammation, and decrease muscle spasm and sleep disturbance. The first line of treatment when it comes to neck pain medication is typically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications , such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and acetaminophen . Some NSAIDS can be applied topically to the skin, such as Voltaren Gel and Aspercreme other topical treatments include Icy-Hot, lidocaine based patches, and CBD creams/ointments.

Prescription medications such as muscle relaxers and nerve pain medications are sometimes considered, says Dr. Bonte. Muscle relaxants are used more often for acute pain rather than chronic pain.

For those with neuropathic neck pain, injections including a steroid and pain reliever may be effective, especially if done in conjunction with physical therapy. Ablation of the nerves near the neck joints may improve mobility and reduce pain, too.

Complementary therapies:Alternative treatments may be helpful in managing neck pain. Some of the more popular complementary therapies for treating neck pain include:

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What Do I Need To Know About Neck Anatomy

You dont need to memorize the physiology and anatomy of your neck to improve its function and reduce pain, but its helpful to have a general understanding of your cervical spine.

Neck mobility is matchless. Although you wont get any Exorcist-style head spinning, it is capable of moving the head in many directions: 90° of flexion , 90° of extension , 180° of rotation , and almost 120° of tilt to either shoulder.

But all that mobility comes at the cost of complexity. First youve got your seven vertebrae , each cushioned by an intervertebral disc and connected by facet joints. There are also 32 muscles, plus the tendons that attach them to bones, that help move and stabilize the neck, as well as a number of ligaments attaching bones to each other. Thats a lot of action in a comparatively small area.

Dont Drive For Long Periods At A Time

Just like sitting at your desk all day, sitting behind the wheel of your car can affect your neck. If you have to drive for long periods, here are some tips for preventing a stiff neck:

  • Take breaks to stand up and stretch.
  • Set an alarm to remind you to check your posture while driving.
  • Set your seat in a position that provides you the most support and puts you in good posture.
  • Dont text and drive. Its illegal, dangerous, and bad for your neck to be repetitively looking up and down from your phone to the road.

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Why Do I Wake Up With Sore Neck And Shoulders

Most commonly, the root cause of a stiff neck is a neck strain, which could be due to a muscle strain or ligament sprain. Several other causes could exist, such as facet joint osteoarthritis or cervical degenerative disc disease.How to Treat a Stiff Neck After Sleeping Spine-health

Why Chronic Neck Pain Should Never Be Ignored

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    Neck pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both women and men, and thanks to an increasing use of computers and mobile phones for just about any activity under the sun, those complaints are becoming more common. Lots of factors can contribute to neck pain, including spending hours hunched over electronics.

    Sometimes, neck pain is a minor nuisance that can be remedied with a few lifestyle changes and maybe some gentle stretching. But other times, chronic neck pain can be a sign of a more serious issue thats just not going to clear up on its own. Unless youre a doctor, it can be difficult to tell when persistent neck pain is due to minor strain and when its being caused by a serious underlying problem that needs immediate care. Heres why chronic neck pain shouldnt be ignored and how the chiropractors at Premier Spine Institute can help you find welcome relief.

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    How Is Neck Pain Diagnosed

    Doctors diagnose neck pain with a physical exam and medical history. Your doctor will feel and move your neck to locate pain and find motion problems. Doctors also check your muscle strength and reflexes. Your doctor will ask about previous neck injuries that might have caused whiplash or a herniated disc. Your doctor may ask about work or other activities that could affect your neck.

    To diagnose the cause of the pain, your doctor may use imaging tests such as X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography . These tests can show damage and other issues in the bones and surrounding tissues in your neck.

    Other tests that your doctor may order include: electromyography, nerve conduction studies, myelogram and/or nerve root block. These tests look more closely at the discs in the spine, the spine itself, check the function of nerves and muscle response and source of the pain.

    Why Does Your Neck Hurt 5 Neck Pain Causes

    Muscle strain in your neck happens as a result of injury or inflammation to muscles, joints, nerves, or other structures in the spine. For example, a strained ligament or “pinched” nerve can lead to neck pain.

    Most of the time, these neck pain causes are easily treated. It’s still important to see your healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and not try to self-diagnose your neck pain.

    This article presents five common neck pain causes and their treatment, along with common symptoms to help identify them. It offers a few lifestyle changes that may reduce the muscle strain to your neck.

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    How Is The Cause Of Chronic Neck Pain Diagnosed

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    Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and when they began. Tell him or her if you were recently in an accident or had another injury to your neck. He or she will examine your neck and shoulders. He or she may also have you move your head in certain ways to see if any position causes or relieves the pain.

    • Blood tests may be used to measure the amount of inflammation or to check for signs of an infection.
    • X-ray or MRI pictures may show a neck injury or medical condition. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

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