Common Causes of Neck Pain

Michael Hausch, DC

The National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that 1 in 3 Americans suffer from neck pain. Although the majority of the people affected by neck pain are women, both men and women are adversely affected and can have chronic neck problems.

Neck pain is typically classified in two ways.

  1. Radicular pain moves through your nerves. It can travel down into an arm or up into your head. It is often accompanied by a reduction in muscle strength, a slowing down of reflexes or a feeling of pins and needles.
  1. Axial pain is primarily located in the cervical spine. It can also spread across the shoulders.

No matter which type of neck pain you may be experiencing, if you have neck pain, it can be debilitating and cause you to miss out on your regular activities and enjoyment of life.

What does neck pain include?

Neck pain can be classified by having a headache or a decreased movement of your head. You may have tightness or spasms in the neck muscles or you have pain that gets worse when you keep your head in one position.

What are the common causes neck pain?

Your neck is responsible for supporting your head and allowing for a wide range of motion. For most people, it is a part of the body that is often taken for granted when it is functioning properly. However, even though it’s one of the most overlooked body parts, it can cause serious pain and discomfort when it is injured. Unfortunately, the causes of neck pain can be difficult to diagnose. Neck pain can be the result of your lifestyle and activities, or maybe the result of an accident or injury.

  • Muscle strain: Sitting hunched over a computer for hours on end, poor posture at work or even reading in bed can cause your neck muscles to strain.
  • Compression: The nerves in your neck can become compressed due to bone spurs or a herniated disc.
  • Age: Osteoarthritis causes a deterioration of the cartilage between your bones. Bone spurs can form between the vertebrae and create pain as well as affect your motion.
  • Injury: Car accidents are a leading cause of neck pain. Whiplash is common in rear-end collisions. Muscles and soft tissues in the neck are strained when a car accident jerks the head backward and forward.
  • Disease: Several diseases cause neck pain: meningitis, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis are a few of them.

In most cases, the symptoms of neck pain will improve on its own, however you need to address the root cause of neck pain if you want permanent relief. If you’re experiencing neck pain, here are a few simple measures you can use to alleviate your pain.

  • Heat /Ice.
    When you first begin to experience pain, apply ice for the first 2 to 3 days. Ice packs should be applied in 15-minute increments, allowing your skin time to recover between applications. After 72 hours, use heat. Take a warm shower or heating pad to ensure the heat gets to the affected area.
  • Use stretching exercises to help your neck muscles relax. Move your head in a range of motions: left to right, up and down, diagonally.
  • Replace your pillow with one designed to give extra support for your neck.
  • Have your neck massaged gently. Consider seeking therapeutic massage treatment. The massage therapist will focus on a specific trouble area over several appointments.
  • Take pain relievers if absolutely necessary for acute pain, but do not rely on medication pain relievers to manage the pain. Instead, address the root cause of the pain and stiffness with chiropractic adjustments, stretching and strength building.
  • Resist the temptation to stop moving. Use slow movements and avoid activities that can cause your neck to jerk or twist, but by continuing to move it can help reduce swelling and help reduce your symptoms.

When should you seek medical help?

  • If you’ve had an accident and have developed new symptoms
  • If your pain lasts for more than three weeks without any relief
  • If your stiff neck doesn’t improve within a matter of weeks
  • If you have a headache accompanied by dizziness, vomiting, and nausea
  • If you have an unexpected loss of bowel or bladder control
  • If you have unexplained weight loss
  • If your arms or legs “fall asleep” frequently or you lose your balance

Don’t suffer from untreated neck pain. If you have been experiencing neck pain for over three weeks, or if your neck develops new symptoms, contact your doctor.

Contact us to book a consultation or call (773) 694 – 9631

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