What causes neck pain?
Do you ever wake up with a stiffness in your neck? What about pain in your neck that gets worse after holding your head in one place for a long time? Neck pain can have many causes. Other symptoms might include muscle tightness and spasms, headaches, decreased ability to move your head, and difficulty sleeping.
“When it comes to pain felt in the neck, the earlier you act on it, the better,” said Doug deHoll, MD. He shared some home treatment options and advice.
How common is neck pain?
Approximately 10 to 25 percent of people complain about having a severe episode of pain felt in the neck at least once in their lives. Aging and everyday damage contribute to the commonness of neck pain, and while these causes cannot always be avoided, there are many that can. The most common causes include:
- Muscle strains
- Worn joints
- Nerve compression
What are some home treatment options for neck pain?
- Alternate ice and heat on your neck. For the first 48 hours after an injury, ice is better. After 48 hours, use what provides the best relief for you.
- Use massage therapy.
- Make sure you have the right pillow. As long as it is supporting your head and neck appropriately, it is considered a good pillow. There’s no study that proves an expensive pillow works better than a cheaper pillow, so as long as it supports your neck, it is okay.
- Improve your posture at work. Lower your chair or raise your computer screen to make it more eye-level.
- Be smart and careful when lifting. Overhead lifting puts a lot of strain on people with neck issues. If you are unsure about whether you can lift something, ask for help.
If your pain lasts for more than a few days, or if the pain starts radiating from your neck to your arm, Dr. deHoll says it is time to consult a physician about the next steps to take. Some of these next steps could include physical therapy or steroid injections.
If the more conservative options are not helpful, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options include cervical disc replacement, which Dr. deHoll specializes in. Much like a hip replacement, a cervical disc replacement preserves the motion in the neck.
Neck pain can be a real, well—pain. But it doesn’t have to be! Follow these treatment options to stay healthy and active.
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