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How Do I Get Rid of Neck Pain? A Neck Specialist’s Recommendations
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Does your neck often feel sore and stiff in the morning or after sitting on your desk all day? You’re not the only one. More than 30% of adults in the US experience neck pain every year, and about 20% to 70% will have neck pain that interferes with their daily activities during their lifetime.
The neck is also called the cervical spine, and it is a complex structure made up of bones, nerves, muscles, and joints that work together to support the head, provide mobility, and protect the spinal cord.
In most cases, neck pain is caused by poor posture or overuse and can be relieved with home care. However, sometimes, it can be a sign of a serious injury or an underlying illness.
Is your neck pain persistent or are you unsure of what’s causing it? Our board-certified neck specialists can help. At Premier Pain Clinics, we use minimally invasive pain procedures to provide relief for our patients and help them recover their quality of life.
Leave us your information below if you want to learn more about our treatments or schedule an appointment.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Just like neck pain can be caused by slouching over a computer screen all day, it can be caused by many other different conditions. In any case, it’s crucial to understand the underlying cause of the pain to be able to treat it effectively.
Acute Neck Pain
The most common causes of neck pain tend to be acute and heal within a few days or weeks. These are usually related to sprains and strains.
Aside from poor posture and sleeping positions, they can also happen due to trauma, such as a fall, accident, or impact from certain types of movements. For instance, jerking your neck during exercise can cause overextension and result in neck pain.
Chronic Neck Pain
On the other hand, when neck pain persists or keeps coming back over a prolonged period, it’s usually related to degenerative spine conditions, which happen naturally due to wear and tear:
- Degenerative disc disease: Pain caused by the drying out or damaging of your spinal discs, which are in charge of cushioning your vertebrae and providing flexibility to your back.
- Herniated or slipped disc: Occurs when a spinal disc’s protective outer layer tears, and the inner layer—a jelly-like material—ruptures through it, which can cause pain and inflammation.
- Cervical spondylosis: Also called cervical osteoarthritis; it is a gradual breakdown of your joints’ protective cartilage, which causes joint swelling and pain.
Other Possible Causes of Neck Pain
Emotional stress: Stress can cause tension in your neck muscles and result in neck pain.
- Myofascial pain syndrome: In other words, muscle pain that develops due to muscle injury or from excessive strain on a muscle or muscle group, ligament, or tendon.
- Fibromyalgia: A chronic condition that causes musculoskeletal pain all over the body.
- Spondylolisthesis: A spinal condition that causes one of your vertebrae to slip over the one below it.
- Spinal tumor: Although it’s extremely rare, a tumor (from cancer, for example) can develop in the cervical spine and cause tissue damage and pain.
At Premier, we design the treatment plan that best suits your specific needs—but to do so, we first perform a thorough examination to determine the root cause of your pain.
If you are experiencing persistent neck pain, visit our clinics to get evaluated by some of the best neck specialists in the country.
This Is What Neck Pain Can Feel Like
Neck pain symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the pain. Some of them might be:
- Stiff neck: This makes it difficult to move your neck.
- Soreness: Achy pain or discomfort in a broad area of your neck.
- Sharp pain: Stabbing or stinging pain at a specific point of your neck.
- Radicular pain: Burning pain that radiates along a nerve from the neck into the shoulder and arm.
- Headaches: Some neck conditions can affect muscles or nerves connected to the head, and cause headaches.
Seek Immediate Medical Help If You’re Experiencing These Symptoms
Sometimes, neck pain can be a sign of a more serious condition, like meningitis or a heart attack, so it’s important you keep an eye out for certain symptoms. See a doctor right away if you’re experiencing one or several of these:
- Sudden, severe neck pain.
- A lump in your neck.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Pain that radiates to your arms or legs.
- Neck pain after an accident or fall.
- Neck pain that persists for more than a week.
How is Neck Pain Diagnosed?
Symptoms and Medical History
The first thing a neck specialist will do when diagnosing the specific cause of your neck pain is to learn about your medical history. They will also ask questions about your lifestyle and occupation, since your day-to-day activities can trigger some types of neck pain.
When asking about your symptoms, they’ll want to know details like how long you’ve had them, whether the pain is constant or intermittent, if it occurs only in one spot or if it radiates to other parts of your body, etc.
After analyzing your medical history, your doctor will probably perform a physical exam that consists of:
- Feeling your neck to check if your muscles are tight or tender.
- Look for any lesions or bumps.
- Observe your posture.
- Ask you to move your neck to check its range of motion.
- Perform a reflex exam to evaluate your nervous system.
- Check for any other unusual symptoms or sensations, such as numbness or tingling.
If your doctor isn’t able to diagnose you with your medical history and a physical exam, they might use imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan to get a better view of what’s going on in your neck.
Other Diagnostic Tests
Sometimes, an affected nerve can be causing your pain—in this case, other tests such as an electromyogram (EMG) or a nerve conduction study (NCS) may be necessary to determine where it’s happening.
This is How Neck Pain is Treated
Although most cases of neck pain are not serious, experiencing it can definitely feel like a nightmare, especially if it’s chronic. But how can you get rid of it?
Well… it depends on the cause.
Easing Your Neck Pain At Home
If the pain is mild and wasn’t a result of trauma, your doctor will probably recommend home treatment, which can include:
- Gentle stretches or exercises
- Ice or heat therapy
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin.
Other Treatment Options
- Physical therapy: If your neck pain is persistent, your treatment plan may include physical therapy, which will help improve neck strength and flexibility.
- Medications: If OTC medications don’t help your pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger options such as NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, or opioids.
- Chiropractic treatment: This type of therapy consists of specific manual manipulations that help realign your joints and relieve pain.
- Massage therapy: Believe it or not, massages can be an effective treatment for neck pain. They can help relieve muscle tension and eliminate spasms—plus, they help you relax!
Interventional Pain Management
If you are experiencing persistent neck pain, you may want to visit a specialized treatment center. At Premier Pain Clinics, we offer treatments that focus on what is actually causing pain, called interventional pain procedures.
Interventional pain management combines several disciplines and techniques to improve the patient’s quality of life. It consists of minimally invasive procedures that aim to reduce or eliminate pain, as well as allow patients to return to their everyday activities without having to rely on medications.
These types of procedures are a great option to help relieve neck pain. One of the neck pain treatments our doctors recommend are injections, which deliver pain-relieving medication directly to the affected area. In fact, they are used both to treat and identify the source of the pain.
However, our neck specialists will carefully study your case so they can recommend the best treatment option for you.
If you are looking for alternative treatment for neck pain, you’ll love Premier Pain Clinics. Our holistic approach allows us to provide our patients treatments that not only provide long-term pain relief, but also overall wellbeing.
Ready to start living a pain-free life? Request a consultation below to schedule an appointment.
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