Oh! Pain in the Neck?!
Neck pain, at times, can become pain in the neck’ quite literally. People who have experienced neck pain alone know how painful the neck pain can turnout to be.
Neck is one of the most flexible regions of the spine, which consists of vertebrae, seven shock absorbing discs, muscles, and vertebral ligaments to hold them in place. The uppermost cervical disc connects the top of the spinal column to the base of the skull. The spinal cord, which sends nerve impulses to every part of the body, runs through a canal in the cervical vertebrae and continues all the way down the spine.
What Causes neck pain?
Most people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain can be acute, lasting for few hours or a few weeks, or it can be chronic. Neck pain that lasts several weeks or longer is considered chronic neck pain.
Neck pain can be caused by an activity or injury or by a medical condition. Your head and neck region is vulnerable to many different stresses. Bad posture can cause misalignment of your neck, head, and spine. Car accidents can cause whiplash. Age and wear and tear can cause arthritis. Even activities such as chewing gum and reading in bed and cause pain. How do we avoid these potential problems? And if we can’t avoid them, how can we recover as quickly as possible.
Non-specific neck pain
Many people develop a stiff and painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after a minor twisting injury, for example while gardening. Since the underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood hence it is called ‘non-specific neck pain’ Having non-specific neck pain does not mean that your neck is damaged. Often it happens in people whose necks would appear completely normal under an x-ray. It is the most common type of neck pain and disappears after a few days.
Activities that cause neck pain
Neck pain mostly is caused by activities that result in repeated or prolonged movements of the neck’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, or joints. This can result in a strain(an overstretched or overused muscle), a sprain (injury to a ligament), a spasm of the neck muscles, or inflammation of the neck joints.
1. Holding your head in a forward or odd position for long periods of time
while working, reading, watching TV, or talking on the telephone.
2. Sleeping on a pillow that is too high or too flat or doesn’t adequately
support your head, or sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted
3. Spending long periods of time resting your forehead on your upright fist
4. Work that uses the upper body and arms, such as painting a ceiling or
other overhead work.
Injuries that cause neck pain
The Spine consists of interlocking bones(vertebrae) and discs that separate the vertebrae. The portion of the spine that runs through the neck is known as the cervical spine. Muscles and ligaments in the neck hold the cervical spine together. Injury to any of these structures may result in neck pain.
Minor injuries may occur from tripping or from excessive motion of the cervical spine. Severe neck injuries may occur from whiplash in an accident, falls from significant heights, direct blows to the face or the back or top of the head, sports-related injuries , a penetrating injury such as a stab wound, or pressure applied to the outside of the neck, such as strangulation.
Pain from an injury may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Sudden (acute) injuries can result in strain and pain in the neck, dislocation of the spin, or a ruptured disc.
Medical conditions that cause neck pain
1. Neck pain may be caused by or related to medical conditions such as:
2. Cervical Spinal Stenosis
3. Cervical Spondylosis
4. Illnesses, such as meningitis, which cause inflammation around the
tissues of the brain and spinal cord.
5.Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or
Torticollis (wryneck): Torticollis is
caused by severe muscle tightness or a shortened muscle on
one side of the neck, causing the head to be tilted to one side.
Referred pain: Referred pain occurs when
a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another
place. For example, a problem with your jaw or your heart can
cause neck pain.
Infection or a tumor in the neck area.
Signs and Symptoms
Neck pain takes many forms. Signs and symptoms of neck pain may include:
1. Pain in your neck that may be sharp or dull
2. Stiffness in your neck
3. Difficulty going about your daily tasks because of pain or stiffness in
4. Shoulder pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases
5. Back pain in addition to neck pain, in some cases
Help yourself to prevent neck pain
Take frequent breaks: Don’t sit in one place for a long time, such as your car or at your desk.
Arrange some of the items in your office that cause inconvenience. This will force you to get up, stretch or walk around.
Maintain good neck posture:
Adjust the seat of your computer or desk chair so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees. Your head and neck will naturally follow in the correct position. While traveling in a car, airplane or train, place a small pillow or rolled towel between your neck and a head rest to keep the normal curve in your neck.
Avoid too many pillows:
Avoid sleeping with too many pillows or falling asleep in front of the television with your head on the arm of a couch.
Exercise: Treat your body to a consistent regimen of stretching and strengthening to balance your muscle groups. This protects your neck as well as helping your whole body. Walking at any pace is excellent exercise for your neck. The rotation of the spine provides a great natural workout for the neck muscles.
Eat smart and Drink water:
Good nutrition and staying well hydrated are not only important to stay healthy, but vital in the healing process.
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