Do you feel a lingering pain in your neck all day long? Does your neck and back feel stiff every time you try to turn your head? Neck pain is a common problem that happens to an estimated eight out of ten adults at some point during their lifetime.
Your neck consists of seven vertebral bones called cervical vertebrae that elongate from the back of your skull to the upper torso. These bones are supported by various tendons and muscles and are separated by intervertebral discs that absorb the external shocks. This complex network of muscles, bones and ligaments ensures easy neck movement and helps you enjoy your daily activities without any problem.
Neck pain or stiffness is something that many people experience occasionally. It may happen because of poor posture, whiplash or continuous strain on the neck. However, such pain isn’t serious and eventually subsides within a few days.
Regular neck pain is different than chronic neck pain that simply doesn’t go away. Chronic neck pain can last for many weeks, and the person suffering from it usually requires periodic medical attention to go on with their daily routine and perform regular tasks with ease. More often than not, this type of neck pain is treated by using a combination of rest, pain control medication and physical therapy.
What Are the Causes of Neck Pain?
Acute neck pain or stiffness can happen to anyone and is usually caused by the following:
- Undue strain on neck muscles
- Poor body posture
- Bad sleeping habits
- Repeated teeth grinding
- Excessive strain on the back
- A pinched nerve (cervical radiculopathy)
However, if it is chronic neck pain, the cause can be:
- A sports injury
- A neck injury, for example, in whiplash
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- A tumor
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Cervical spondylosis
- A herniated disc
Sometimes, neck pain also occurs as a result of a common infection. For example, a person suffering from a throat infection may experience swelling and pain in his neck. Some rare infections like scrofula and meningitis also cause chronic neck pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Neck Pain?
- There is persistent or recurring pain and stiffness in the neck. The problem may start as lingering pain in the middle or on the side of the neck that later spreads to the shoulder and back.
- You experience recurring headaches where you can feel the pain traveling to the back of your head and worsening the condition.
- You feel a painful tightening sensation every time you turn your head, especially after you have sat or rested in one position for a long period.
- You feel pain and weakness in your arms and legs, and find it hard to walk properly.
Acute neck pain can be cured with home treatment. However, if your neck pain is due to an injury or infection, and the pain doesn’t go away even after you have healed, contact a medical professional immediately as you might be suffering from a chronic problem. A pain management specialist can provide you with a personalized treatment plan to reduce your pain and help you lead a normal life.