There are a lot of methods for neck pain relief, which may depend on the underlying cause of pain.
Neck pain is any discomfort felt in the neck area. The pain may occur in the nerves or muscles of the neck. The pain may be because of a disease or disorder occurring at the tissues, muscles, or nerves or the neck. Examples of conditions that produces pain in the neck are neck strain or injury, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerve, or a herniated disc. Neck pain may also be a result of infections such as pharyngitis, laryngitis, osteomyelitis, or meningitis (See: Meningitis Symptoms). Conditions that affect the muscles such as polymyalgia rheumatic and fibromyalgia (See: Symptoms of Fibromyalgia) can as well cause neck pain. Neck pain is also known as cervical pain.
Individuals involved in motor vehicles, contact sports, horse or bull riding, and many more are at high risk in developing neck pain. Neck pain prevention includes limiting activities that may cause neck pain as well as stretching and strengthening exercises for the neck. Neck pain relief includes different methods such as: physical therapy, medications, hot and cold compresses, medications, and many more.
Causes of Neck Pain
A variety of disorders and diseases can affect neck pain. This includes injuries and diseases. It is important to identify the cause of neck pain because it would be the basis to identify methods to be utilized for neck pain relief.
Overuse of neck muscles and joints can result to neck pain. The pain usually occurs at the back of the neck. The overuse of muscles can result to pain because of it becoming strained or fatigued. These can be a result of activities such as: driving, using the computer, sleeping, reading while in bed, and even gritting the teeth. The neck is also composed of joints. And like many other joints, it may as well experience tearing and wearing off. This is called osteoarthritis.
Nerve compression is also a common cause of neck pain. This is because the vertebrae of the neck reduce the space for the nerves in the neck, an example of which are stiffened disks. As one ages, the discs that provide cushion between the vertebrae become stiff and dry. This results to the spaces in the spinal column to narrow. A herniated disc can also cause nerve compression. This happens when the gel-like substance inside the disc protrudes in the outer layer of the disc. The protrusion causes pressure in the nerves causing pain. Bony growths due to arthritis can also cause compression on the nerves. Providing neck pain relief in this type of problem is often complicated.
Other causes of neck pain also include injuries and diseases. Injuries may be caused by overstretching of the tissues of the neck as well as frequent jerking of the head forward and backward. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects the joints hands, feet, and neck. Meningitis meanwhile is an infection that affects the brain and spinal cord. And since the spinal cord passes the neck, the swelling of the spinal cord can also cause neck stiffness and pain. In rare cases, a tumor may also grow in the spine in the neck area causing pain.
Diagnosis of Neck Pain
Determining the exact cause of pain is important. This is because treatment mainly depends on the underlying cause. Diagnosis of neck pain includes the medical history and physical examination. The physician may ask how the pain started and what makes the pain worse or better. The condition of the muscles may also be tested as well as the range of motion of the neck joints. Certain laboratory test such as: x-rays, MRI, CT scans, or blood tests may be important. Imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, and x-rays are used to determine if such tumors exist in the spine or near the neck area. Blood tests are important to identify if infections are causing neck pain. A lumbar tap may also be necessary to determine if the cause of pain is meningitis.
Methods for Neck Pain Relief
Providing neck pain relief depends mainly on the cause. However, if yet unsure of the diagnosis, certain interventions may be done to relieve the pain. Minor neck pain causes usually can be treated at home but for severe cases, hospitalization may be needed.
Self-care measures at home include certain over-the-counter pain medications. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen sodium, and acetaminophen. Inflammation can be reduced through the use of cold compress. The compress is applied for at least 15 minutes several times per day. Heat compresses or a hot shower may also aid in reducing inflammation. Resting the neck is also important but should not be prolonged because inactivity may also cause pain and stiffness. Stretching the neck in different directions may as well alleviate the discomfort.
In severe cases, neck pain relief may require surgery as well as other procedures. Patients usually needing this time of treatment are patients affected with spine and nerve problems. They may also be required immobilization of the neck using a cervical collar.
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