What You Need to Know about Neck Pain

ByThe Pain Doctors

What You Need to Know about Neck Pain

baltimore-neck-pain-relief
Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck?

Maybe the muscles in your neck go into excruciating spasms for seemingly no reason at all.

Well if so, you are not alone.

Neck pain is a common complaint among many patients in Baltimore. 

In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 15% of all American adults will experience some form of neck pain within a three-month period.

Since this painful experience is likely to strike at some point in your life, it is important to have a basic understanding of what neck pain is, what causes it, and which treatment options are available.

 

What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is pain that can occur anywhere in your neck.  It can span from the bottom of your head to the tops of your shoulders.  It can also reach your upper back and arms if serious enough.

Luckily, most bouts of neck pain are not due to a serious disease or injury.  For example, most cases can be traced back to a minor sprain or poor posture.  However, some neck pain can have longer lasting effects on your health.

Before we discuss what causes neck pain and how to treat it, let’s first look at the anatomy of the neck.

 

Understanding the Neck

Vertebrae, muscles, and ligaments make up the back of your neck and extend all the way down your spine.  More specifically though, your cervical spine starts at the base of your skull and includes the first seven vertebrae (or bones).

  • The first two vertebrae attach your spine to your skull and allow your head to turn from side to side.
  • The other five vertebrae follow the length of your spine and add extra support for holding your head up and keeping your posture straight.

In between each vertebrae is a disc.  Each disc has a fibrous outer layer and a soft gel inner layer.  Acting like spongy shock absorbers, these discs are what give your spine the flexibility to move around freely.

 

So What Causes Neck Pain?

Most neck pain, as mentioned above, is due to activities that strain the neck. For example, slouching at your desk, continuously looking up at something for a long period of time, or sleeping with a twisted neck all have the potential to irritate the muscles in your neck.  As a result, you may experience a strain, sprain, or a muscle spasm in your neck muscles.

Other common causes of neck pain include:

 

Whiplash

Commonly occurring during an automobile crash, whiplash is a severe jolt to the head and neck resulting in extreme pain and stiffness.  When your head rocks forcibly forwards and backward, some of the neck muscles and ligaments stretch further than they are supposed to.

Typically, those in vehicles that are rear-ended suffer from some form of whiplash.  However, a hit from the side can also force the head to whip to the side and sprain the neck muscles.

baltimore-whiplash-pain-doctorsSymptoms of a whiplash injury include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Difficulty bending or turning the neck
  • Pain in the shoulders or upper arms
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or blurred vision
  • Jaw pain and difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue and irritableness

Your Baltimore pain relief center will be able to diagnose a whiplash injury using the information from your accident, the symptoms you are experiencing, and the results from a physical examination.

 

Sudden-Onset (Acute) Torticollis

Otherwise known as “wry neck”, this condition occurs when the head twists to the side and has difficulty going back to a straightened position.

The cause of “wry neck” is unknown.  However, this condition usually affects those who fall asleep fine and wake up in the morning with a twisted neck.

The pain and stiffness of “wry neck” usually disappears on its own after a few days without any treatment, though sometimes it is more severe and needs the assistance of your Baltimore pain relief center.

 

Spinal Degeneration

Age-related wear and tear on your vertebrae is a common cause for neck pain.  Typically affecting people over the age of 50, degeneration can vary in terms of seriousness.

In fact, many people will experience some degree of degeneration over their lifetime and never experience any symptoms.

For those suffering from severe degeneration, expect symptoms such as:

  • Neck pain that spreads to the shoulders and base of the skull
  • Pain in the arms, hands, and fingers
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pins and needles in your arm or hand
  • Clumsiness using your arm or problems walking
  • Loss of bladder control

If you experience any of these symptoms and fear you may be experiencing spinal degeneration, contact your local pain relief center right away to get proper treatment.

 

Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy is a serious condition in which the root of a nerve is being pressed on or is damaged and comes out of your spinal cord in the neck region.  This usually occurs because the insides of a disc in your spine begins to prolapse (or bulge) through the tough outer layer of the disc.

Also known as a “slipped disc,” this condition causes several painful symptoms such as neck pain, pins and needles, numbness, and weakness of the arm that connects to the affected nerve.

 

Other Causes of Neck Pain

In addition to the causes mentioned above, there are several other reasons why you might experience neck pain:baltimore-neck-xray-cervical-spine

  • Holding your head in an odd position, sleeping on a pillow that is too high, spending long periods of time on the phone, and over-exercising your upper body can cause neck pain.
  • In addition to whiplash, injuries such as falls, direct blows to the face or top of the head, and sports-related injuries can cause damage to your neck in varying degrees.
  • Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions can cause neck pain such as arthritis of the neck, narrowing of the spinal canal, meningitis, the flu, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even referred.

 

Treating Neck Pain

Most neck pain lasts for short periods and is resolved within a few weeks.  However, more intense neck pain treatments may be required for more chronic neck pain issues.

 

Acute (Short-Term) Neck Pain Treatments

Short-term neck pain treatments vary depending on the cause of the pain.  For instance, applying heat or ice, resting, and using over-the-counter pain relievers are all good treatment options.

For more severe neck pain relief, call on your favorite Baltimore pain relief center ─ The Pain Doctors.

We can apply manual therapy such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to relieve your neck of pain.  In addition, we will provide you with some helpful stretching and strengthening exercises that you can easily do at home.

 

Chronic (Long-Term) Neck Pain Treatments

For chronic neck pain, you may need a more intense treatment plan.  The most serious option is surgery, though this is rarely required.  It is important you discuss all of your options with your Baltimore pain physician to devise a treatment plan that will meet your needs.

 

Neck Pain Can Be a Real Pain in the Neck

In the end, even the slightest wrong movement can cause a sprain, strain, or a muscle spasm and cause many painful symptoms.  However, there is relief available if you choose to use Baltimore’s leading pain relief center, The Pain Doctors.

Specializing in treating neck pain using a variety of treatment options, your neck pain will soon be a thing of the past if you choose to work with the talented team at The Pain Doctors.

Contact us today and see how The Pain Doctors can treat your neck pain using advanced techniques and holistic approaches.

 

About the author

The Pain Doctors administrator

The Pain Doctors are the renowned pain specialists in Baltimore. From your head to your ankles, we help patients like you find effective pain relief solutions. Call today to schedule your appointment and get out of pain.

    3 Comments so far

    Burt SilverPosted on1:48 pm - Feb 28, 2017

    This is really good information about neck pain. I have been having neck pain for a few months, but I haven’t been sure what caused it. I was in a car accident a while ago, so like you mentioned, it might be the result of whiplash. I will have to go see a specialist to make sure everything is okay and to see if I need further treatment.

    Sam WilkinsPosted on8:24 pm - Aug 25, 2017

    Wow, it’s interesting that the height of your pillow can be causing neck pain. My sister has an enormous pillow and often gets headaches and neck pain. She should try a smaller pillow and see if that helps. If it doesn’t she might need to see a professional to see what else she can do to relieve her pain.

    Max JonesPosted on11:23 am - Aug 29, 2017

    My wife and I have been looking for some neck pain treatment for her, as she’s been struggling with some different issues for a couple of weeks. I’m glad that you talked about a high pillow being something that can cause neck pain, and I think that may be something for us to look at. We’re going to have to take her to a chiropractor and see if we can get her treatment for her neck pain and see if it’s being caused by her new pillows!

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