As the name indicates, neck pain is felt in the tissues of the neck. According to the respondents on a National Institute of Health Statistics survey, neck pain is the third-most common chronic pain condition experienced.
About 15% of the pain survey respondents claim that chronic neck pain impacted the quality of their lives and their overall productivity. Additionally, the survey showed that women are more likely to suffer from chronic neck, jaw, and face pain.
Increasing numbers of patients suffering from neck pain consult specialists such as pain management professionals, chiropractors, and orthopedic surgeons to get relief. There has also been growth in the use of pain-relieving drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter.
The Causes of Neck Pain
A common medical condition, neck pain can be caused by a variety of disorders, diseases, and injury of neck tissues. Neck pain can also occur along with shoulder, back, and face pain.
Neck pain can be caused by abnormalities in the neck bone or joints; muscle strain and stress; poor posture; traumatic injuries; tumors; and degenerative disc diseases. Also referred to as cervical pain, neck pain can be debilitating.
Neck pain can come as a symptom due to common conditions http://www.medicinenet.com/neck_pain/article.htm such as viral infection of the throat, tuberculosis of the neck, bone infection of the spine portion in the neck, septic discitis, meningitis, and osteomyelitis, among others.
Some other causal factors of neck pain are neck injuries such as whiplash, neck strain, pinched nerve, and a herniated disc. Fibromyalgia and polymyalgia impact the neck muscles directly, causing debilitating pain.
People should also be aware that certain activities that include contact sports, road accidents, and activities such as riding as well as bullfighting have a higher risk of neck injuries.
The Diagnosis of Neck Pain
If you are suffering from intense neck pain that is causing nausea, tingling in the arms and neck, headaches, weakness, or sensitivity to light, you must visit your doctor immediately. This becomes more urgent if severe neck pain occurs after an injury or is accompanied by a stiff neck, fever, and vomiting.
When patients suffering from neck pain seek assistance from medical professionals, the first step is to diagnose the causative factors for such pain. Doctors are likely to ask about the medical history of the patient, any recent or past injuries, neck stressors such as posture, and radiation patterns of the pain.
Doctors also use a range of techniques to determine the reasons behind neck pain. These include x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/neck-shoulder
X-rays can reveal issues such as arthritis, tumors, narrowing of the spinal canal or space between spinal bones, fractures, or slipped discs.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to unearth nerve-related issues besides tendon and ligament problems.
CT scanning or myelography is also used to diagnose neck pain, numbness, and tingling. Such electrodiagnostic studies help medical professionals get to the root of neck pain.
Common Pain Management and Treatment Options Available to Patients
The treatment of chronic neck pain is dependent on the doctor’s diagnosis. In other words, treatment is determined by precise cause.
Before setting up complicated treatment procedures, doctors are likely to advise patients to start with rest and recuperation, heat or cold compresses, physical therapy such as massage and manipulation, and the use of neck relief products such as neck pillows and hot pads.
Pain management is undertaken http://www.medicinenet.com/neck_pain/page2.htm through the use of local injections of cortisone and local anesthetic creams, muscle relaxers, topical pain patches, analgesics and muscle relaxants. Some common anti-inflammatory medications include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen.
Doctors could also suggest body traction, surgical procedures, and soft collar traction.
Alternative techniques for neck pain alleviation include chiropractic manipulation, Jacuzzi treatment, and acupuncture.
Doctors also strongly recommend the use of exercises to help strengthen, stretch, and relax neck muscles. Patients might be asked to go to a chiropractor to adjust their neck muscles and reduce pain.
However, in cases of neck pain caused by nerve roots or spinal problems, more invasive procedures such a neck surgery might be recommended.
When neck pain is a manifestation of stress, doctors might recommend the use of antidepressants to help control the pain.
It is also advisable that patients limit their neck movements so as not to exacerbate any swelling or stiffness. Daily regular activity should be resumed gradually.
If patients are suffering from intense neck pain, they might be prescribed narcotics such as Percocet or OxyContin. It is imperative that these medications be taken only for a short period of time, at the right dosage and at the right times.
Narcotics are known to be highly and easily addictive. They are prescribed as a short-term treatment option for sudden acute neck pain. Patients should be made aware of their potential addictive nature and should seek immediate intervention in case of any signs of dependency.