Neck pain is a very common condition that most adults will suffer from, at one point or another. For some, it can be a very mild pain that goes away with proper rest, whereas for others, it can be so severe that it affects their daily lives. Read on to find out how to relieve neck pain.
The neck consists of vertebrae extending from the skull to the upper parts of the body. There are small discs in between the bones that absorb the shock caused by movement. If there is any inflammation or injury to the bone, disc, or muscles in this region, it results in neck pain.
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What Are The Causes of Neck Pain?
1. Muscle strain
The muscles around the neck get strained due to poor posture. If you sit in the same position for long periods of time, your muscles will feel strained. For example, working on the computer for a long time without turning your head can cause your neck muscles to feel strained. Sometimes, wrong posture while lying down or exercising can also cause neck pain.
An injury to the neck occurs when neck muscles and ligaments move outside their normal range. This usually happens during an accident or fall. If a sudden jerking of the neck occurs due to any other reason, it can also cause injury. This is called whiplash.
3. Cervical Spondylitis
Cervical spondylitis is an age-related problem caused by wear and tear of the bones and cartilage in the neck. The majority of people above 60 years old have this problem. But only a few people experience real pain.
4. Herniated disc
A herniated disc is a condition in which the disc slips or protrudes from its original position due to a fall or accident. When this happens, you experience severe pain in the neck.
Osteoporosis is the weakening of the bone as a result of ageing. Though osteoporosis mostly affects the knees and hips, it can also affect the bones in the neck. Osteoporosis of the bones in the neck can result in severe pain.
This is a case of serious neck pain that requires immediate medical attention. Meningitis is a condition in which the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord are inflamed. This condition will result in fever and headaches followed by stiffness of the neck.
How To Manage Neck Pain?
The treatment for neck pain depends on the cause. Generally, the following treatments may be prescribed by a doctor.
1. Ice and heat therapy
Ice therapy numbs the area to which the ice is applied and reduces blood flow to that area. This significantly reduces the inflammation in that region and relieves pain. Ice therapy can be done using ice packs, coolant spray, and ice massages.
Heat therapy increases the blood flow to a specific area due to high temperatures. This increases the flexibility of the muscle and soothes the pain. Heat therapy can be done using a heated pad or by taking a hot bath.
Depending on your condition, your doctor might prescribe either ice or heat therapy.
2. Physical therapy
Physical therapy includes exercises to strengthen the muscles around the affected area. It also includes massage, electrotherapy, and ultrasound. The type of physical therapy done depends on the extent of pain and the patient’s condition.
3. Muscle relaxants
These are medications that can relax the muscles surrounding the affected area. Muscle relaxants can be prescribed either as tablets or ointment. Your doctor might prescribe the relaxant for a number of week(s), depending on the severity of your condition.
4. Using a neck collar
Neck collars help to support the neck and spine and minimise movement in the area. Neck collars are meant for short term use such as when recovering from an accident or injury. These collars are also used after neck surgeries, to recover from cervical spondylitis, as well as general neck pain.
Besides the above, alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic treatments and massages are also helpful to relieve neck pain.
What Are The Home Remedies For Neck Pain?
Not all neck pain requires medical attention. Some can be treated at home with rest and light medication. Here are some ways you can treat neck pain at home:
- Wrap ice in a towel and place it around the neck, and continue this for a few days. After this step, you can apply heat to the affected area using a heating pad. Alternatively, you can also take a hot shower to relieve pain.
- Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen also provides relief from neck pain.
- If the neck pain is caused by some activity like sports or exercise, take a break from the activity and once you restart, take care to proceed slowly and with caution.
What Are Some Good Practices To Avoid Neck Pain?
- Always maintain good posture while sitting and standing.
- Exercise the neck regularly as this provides good strength to your neck muscles. Also, do remember to move the neck from side to side while sitting and working to avoid straining the muscles.
- Do not cradle your phone between your ear and shoulder.
- Use a comfortable pillow while lying down.
- Never use a neck collar without consulting with your doctor.
Unless caused by an accident or injury, most instances of neck pain do not pose serious health issues although they can create a lot of discomfort. The best way to overcome this is to maintain good posture and rest as much as possible.
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