It can really be a strain!
The delicate bones and nerve structures of our neck not only support the weight of our very heavy heads, but move up, down, back, forth, side to side. Constantly. So is it any wonder that so many people suffer neck pain? Or that there are so many different causes and types of pain? So, if your neck is a pain – read on!
Neck pain comes in three main types – acute, which last only briefly – typically a couple of weeks – and is generally caused by an accident; subacute, which lasts a little longer and can be caused by a range of things; and chronic, which lasts for upwards of three months. All can range from a limiting nuisance to severe and debilitating.
The causes of neck pain are more numerous than the bones in the spine. However, strains and sprains are the most common, and some of the triggers are:
- Injury – whether in sports, a car accident, or just an accidental fall, acute neck pain and conditions such as whiplash can result.
- Poor posture – both at work and at home. The relationship between desk, chair and computer at work or school can play an important role in neck pain. However, watching TV, gardening, reading a book can all contribute to the problem.
- Poor sleeping position – this can be exacerbated by using the wrong type of pillow.
- Repetition – years ago there was a lot of talk about RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury. This type of injury can happen in the neck, where a movement is repeated over and over.
- Unusual head positioning – such as balancing a phone against your shoulder for long period can cause lasting discomfort.
There are also some less common causes of neck pain, such as nerve root compression, infection, Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing spondylitis to name just a few. In later weeks we will discuss the signs and symptoms of some of these difficult and painful conditions.
So, if you have a pain in your neck – what should you do? There are many treatments that can provide relief, but the neck is a very delicate structure, and if the pain is interfering in your normal daily function, you should seek professional help. Some treatments a health professional might employ include:
- Dry Needling – used to stimulate the stretch receptor and produce a relaxation response, needles are placed in trigger points, or near affected nerves
- Massage – will relax muscles and reduce spasming
- Chiropractic Adjustment – will help restore range of motion by adjusting the alignment of the cervical spine
- Exercise – gentle exercises prescribed by a health practitioner can assist in relaxing muscles and strengthening them against further recurrence of the problem
- Anti-Inflammatories – will help reduce swelling
- Heat or Ice – ice will help reduce swelling, whilst heat will relax the muscles
- Rest – always a good idea for any injury!
If you are suffering any kind of neck pain, or would just like to know more, please feel free to give us a call at Precision Health Spine & Sports Clinic for some expert advice!