Medical experts and sports enthusiasts alike have made so much noise when it comes to lower back pain that we have almost forgotten that about 75% of the population of many countries suffers from some form of neck pain.
Some of us experience it as mild discomfort caused by poor posture and slouching constantly over our phones and keyboards. While others actually feel chronic pain in the neck – and not even in a remotely funny way.
This can be, and often is, a major symptom for different illnesses, and it can be very detrimental to your health when left untreated.
So, as much as all of us should pay close attention to how we lift heavy stuff and if we’re protecting our lower back from injury. We shouldn’t neglect this small, but significant portion of our skeletal system.
Here’s everything you need to know about neck pain, as well as some of the most common ways to treat those aches and pains at home and with the guidance of your doctor.
Differentiate the symptoms
We constantly hear that we need to listen to our bodies in order to lead a healthy life. Implement the best preventative measures, and know when to ask for medical help. However, what good is it to listen if you don’t understand the language?
You might think that neck pain can only come in one form, but surprisingly. There are so many different signals your body can send when faced with a health issue.
So, here are a few different sensations you might feel in your neck that can be classified as neck pain:
- Stiff muscle pain – often caused by working in one prolonged position, and you probably cannot turn your head to one side, while the other side of your neck is usually mobile.
- Gentle cracking or popping noise – this is called crepitus, and it occurs when there are air bubbles in the subcutaneous tissue, and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. Even though it might not feel comfortable due to the proximity of the noise to your ears.
- Numbness – often followed by that famous “pins and needles” sensation, and it can be either temporary or long-lasting.
- Muscle spasms – a sudden pain that prevents you from moving your neck, and it can even occur overnight.
- Pain and stiffness that go beyond the neck – sometimes what may start as mild neck pain can spread to your shoulders, or you may end up with a headache.
- Balance issues and dizziness – what may seem like mild discomfort in the neck can actually lead to you feeling dizzy, or even blacking out when you turn your head or look up.
Know the most common causes
Now that you’re able to identify the many different kinds of pain that you can feel in the neck. Let’s move onto learning about the many different things that can cause that pain.
- Stress – who knew that emotional distress, prolonged tension at work. Or even a simple disagreement can cause your body to flare up like that? Well, just like tension headaches, you can get neck pain and stiffness from being overly stressed out. Some experts such as Sean Grover. Explain that neck pain is often a reflection of carrying a heavy burden of sorts – maybe it’s time to talk to someone, or simply delegate a portion of your responsibilities.
- Poor posture and unnatural sleeping positions – yes, we’re all guilty of sleeping like pretzels from time to time. And this unbelievable ability to bend and twist during the night can wreak havoc on your neck, too. Muscle spasms and mobility issues will often happen as a result of these two common culprits.
- Car accidents – if you’ve been in an accident recently, and you otherwise feel perfectly fine. Sometimes you may feel the symptoms of neck pain and stiffness, also known as whiplash.
- Injuries – if you’re an athlete or you enjoy any physical activity, there’s a possibility you can injure yourself if you fall down or turn your head into an uncomfortable position. Of course, physical injuries often immediately lead to symptoms, so you’ll be able to connect the dots.
- A pinched nerve – Just like you can feel lumbar pain all the way down your leg if your sciatic nerve is pinched. The same can happen in your neck, when a nerve is pinched in this area. The tingling sensation might wane on its own, but in case you feel prolonged pain and tingling, head to a doctor.
- Spinal stenosis – A narrowing of the spinal canal that typically happens in the cervical (neck) area, or the lumbar spine. This particular issue has pushed the renowned athlete David Wright into early retirement from MLB.
Learn about possible treatments
Now that you can decipher many different meanings of neck pain and have more in-depth knowledge on a range of causes, you can dig deeper and learn about how professionals handle certain neck and spine troubles.
It’s vital to rely on reputable sources such as Dr Timothy Steel’s Neurosurgery Journal in order to learn more about the human anatomy. The procedures used to treat spinal issues. And to brace yourself for a potential surgery if need be.
So, in addition to always looking into credible sources for data on how to classify neck pain and know when to head to a doctor’s office. You should stay updated on the latest trends in medical treatments of these health issues.
In addition to listening, educating yourself, and of course, doing your best to prevent neck troubles. When you do encounter neck pain, you can alleviate it by using some of those tried and tested home remedies.
- Neck stretches – very helpful when your neck feels stiff, and very useful to implement as a preventative measure, too.
- Massage – preferably, you can book a professional massage to handle those knots and trigger points. As Paul Ingraham points out. The neck is a sensitive area, so you need to tread carefully if you choose to massage yourself!
- Heat or ice – depending on what your doctor recommends, you can alternate between the two or use only one option to soothe the pain and the possible swelling.
- Over-the-counter medicine – if the pain you feel is too severe for you to find a comfortable position to fall asleep and go about your business. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine such as ibuprofen to relieve the pain while you use other techniques to heal the cause of the issue.
- Change your posture and sleep – if the root cause of your neck pain is how you sleep or work, then you might need to change your environment. Purchase an ergonomic chair to give you more support, take breaks during work to stretch your neck, and change your mattress for better sleep.
On a final note
In case your neck pain is accompanied by a range of other. Seemingly unrelated symptoms such as vomiting, fever, weakness. Difficulty moving your arms – you should go to your doctor as soon as possible.
There are so many different health issues that can cause your neck to feel stiff or sensitive. So it’s wise to always leave a medical professional to give you a proper diagnosis.
With that in mind, always do your best to prevent neck and other spinal issues by correcting your posture. Exercising regularly, and getting ample sleep – preferably not in that pretzel position.