Neck pain is defined as the pain near or in the area of your spine below the back of your head, called the cervical spine. There are a wide variety of physical injuries and health conditions that cause neck pain.
The pain is categorized into axial neck pain (commonly observed in the neck) and radicular neck pain (the pain starts in your neck and shoots down to the shoulders or arms). Neck pain can be acute, which may last up to 6 weeks, or chronic which makes people suffer for years.
It is rare that neck pain is a sign of something more serious. Consult an expert spine doctor if your neck pain is associated with other symptoms like numbness, loss of arm strength, or experiencing sharp pain in the shoulder or arm.
Leaving neck pain untreated can hamper your day-to-day activities and decrease your quality of life.
The below are some of the common reasons for Neck Pain.
Due to the flexible nature of your neck and the fact that it bears your head weight, it is susceptible to injuries and some medical disorders that result in neck pain and limit mobility.
Muscle strains and ligament sprains are frequently caused by overuse or over stretch of neck muscles/ligaments,such as spending too much time bent and working over a computer or using a smartphone. Neck muscles can be strained by even simple activities like reading, lying in bed, or gritting your teeth.People usually are habituated to certain style of sleeping , pillow usage etc.. If there is a sudden change , such situations may arise.
Your neck joints typically wear out with age, just as your other joints in your body. Osteoarthritis/osteoarthoris is a condition that deteriorates the cartilage (which acts as a glass-like gliding surface) between your vertebral bones. When these cartilage cells degrade, bone spurs develop, which limit joint motion and also cause pain.
Nerve compression: When the nerves coming out of your spinal cord are compressed due to herniated disks or bone spurs. It may result in neck pain and discomfort.They sometimes cause radiation or radiculopathy. If it leads to spinal cord compression, symptoms of myelopathy may ensue.
Injuries: Vehicle collisions may cause whiplash injuries, where your head is wrenched back and forth suddenly, stressing the connective tissue in your neck. Your spinal cord’s muscles, ligaments, and vertebral discs can also be damaged in these collisions. This may lead to neck pain and soreness.
Physical strain: Repeated action or strenuous activity can stress your neck muscles and might result in stiffness and pain. This is more true if there is an unaccustomed strenuous physical activity.
Diseases: Arthritis (RA), Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, meningitis, and cancer are some of the rare diseases that can cause neck pain.
Mental stress or tension may tighten your neck muscles, leading to neck pain and stiffness. These typically reduce the pain threshold and can give a feeling of increased pain.
Poor posture, overweight and weak abdominal muscles can also affect the posture of your spine and cause neck pain.
Neck pain is most commonly caused by poor posture and wear and tear that results from aging. Maintain your head’s center of gravity over your spine to minimize neck pain. A few changes may be needed in your daily routine to prevent neck pain:
- Maintain good posture: When you stand or sit, be sure you are in a good posture. Your shoulders should be aligned straight above your hip line, and your ears above your shoulders.
- Take frequent breaks: Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles whenever you travel long distances. Get up and move around if you work on your computer for an extended period of time. Make sure your monitor is at eye level by adjusting your desk, chair, or computer. The hips should be positioned at the level or higher than the knees. Use the armrests of your chair.
- When talking on the phone, avoid placing it between your head and shoulder. Instead, take a headset or use a speakerphone.
- If you have the habit of smoking, quit. Smoking increases your risk of getting neck pain.
- Carrying bulky luggage over your shoulders is not recommended because the weight might cause neck pain.
- Sleep in a comfortable position. Your neck and head must be in line with the rest of your body. Place a small cushion beneath your neck. Sleep on your back, placing your thighs slightly high on cushions to relax your spinal muscles.
- Do regular physical exercise and also exercises to target and strengthen the spinal muscles.
Neck pain can be treated in different ways based on its cause. The goal is to reduce pain while improving function. Physical therapy and medication are common conservative treatments for this condition. Consult Dr. Surya Prakash, the senior-most spine doctor in Hyderabad, to know more about treatment options for those suffering from chronic neck pain. He has more than 25 years of experience in treating various spine conditions. Call +91 9848024699 and book your appointment with the doctor.