The neck holds a delicate and important job in the body. Your neck bones and muscles located at the top of your spine work tirelessly to keep your head steady and balanced all day. If this delicate balance is altered, either due to bad posture at work or sleeping in the wrong position, then you may experience back pain. To have your pain treated successfully, you need to discover the real causes of neck pain.
What is Causing Your Neck Pain?
Due to the flexible structure of your neck and the work, it does to support your head, the neck is prone to conditions that can restrict motion and result in pain and injuries. Some of the common causes of neck pain include:
- Nerve compression: Bone spurs and herniated or compressed discs among your neck vertebrae at the top of your spine can press on nerves that branch out from your spinal cord.
- Worn-out joints: If the joints in your neck are worn out because of age, you could experience neck pain. If you have osteoarthritis due to age, the cartilage located in between your vertebrae may start to wear out. Then, bone spurs will form and hinder joint motion.
- Strained muscles: Overusing your neck muscles by hunching over your computer or tablet for long hours can lead to muscle strain. You can even strain your neck muscles by gritting your teeth or reading in bed.
- Injuries: Your neck can be injured if you have been involved in a rear auto collision. Your neck’s soft tissues can become strained if your head jerks back and forth.
- Diseases: Degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or meningitis can cause neck pain if they affect the spine’s bones.
Treating Neck Pain
Proper treatment of neck pain begins with a thorough diagnosis. When you visit our clinic, we will gather your medical history and perform a detailed examination of your neck, shoulder, and other parts of your spine. During the test, your doctor will check for your ability to move your head in all directions as well as the presence of numbness or weakness in your muscles.
Your doctor may also recommend imaging tests to get a more detailed picture of the underlying cause of the pain in your neck. These tests include:
- MRI: This will create detailed images of soft tissues and spinal bones as well as nerves branching from the spinal cord.
- X-ray: This will show the areas of your neck where your spinal cord or nerves may be pinched by degeneration or bone spurs.
- CT scan: This uses x-ray images from different directions to create a detailed cross-section of the structure of your neck.
- Electromyography: This will reveal any presence of pinched nerves.
Most mild-to-moderate cases of neck pain will respond to self-care. But if pain persists, your doctor will recommend:
- Medication: You may need to use muscle relaxants as well as strong pain-relieving medications and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help you develop the correct posture and realign and strengthen your neck muscles through exercise.
- Traction: This utilizes pulleys, weights, and an air bladder to stretch your neck muscles.
- Immobilization: You may need to wear a soft collar that supports your neck, reduces the pressure on it, and relieves pain.