Neck Pain

If you’ve ever experienced neck pain, you know how debilitating it can be and how much it can affect your daily life and activities.

One of the most common reasons people experience neck pain is because of injuries from a car accident. Neck pain can also stem from conditions like cervical osteoarthritis and cervical degenerative disease.

Heart attacks can cause neck pain, but this is rare.

For many people, neck pain is the result of muscle strain and tension from poor posture, working at your desk for long periods without changing position, jerking your neck when you’re exercising, or sleeping with your neck in an uncomfortable position.

The following are some of the more specific things you should know about neck pain and how to deal with it.

An Overview of Neck Pain

Your neck is made up of vertebrae. Your cervical discs in your neck can absorb the shock between your bones. Your neck bones, ligaments, and muscles provide support and allow you to have a range of motion. If you have an injury, inflammation or other abnormalities, it can cause stiffness or pain in your neck.

There are mild, occasional instances of neck pain such as bad posture or overuse. Then, as was mentioned above, neck pain can be caused by an injury such as a fall or whiplash following a car accident.

For many people, neck pain isn’t serious and will go away, but for some people it can be a serious injury requiring medical care.

When Should You See a Doctor for Neck Pain?

  • Some of the reasons to see a doctor for neck pain include:
  • The pain is severe
  • The pain continues without relief
  • You have other symptoms like headache, weakness, or tingling
  • The pain spreads down your arms or legs

What Are the Treatment Options for Neck Pain?

If you talk to your doctor about neck pain, they will go over your medical history and your symptoms. You should tell your doctor if you’ve had any recent accidents or injuries, even if you don’t think they’re related to your pain.

The treatment for neck pain varies significantly, depending on the underlying cause.

Some of the tests your doctor might do include:
  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • Lumbar puncture
Depending on the outcome of your tests, your doctor could tell you to use ice and heat therapy or stretching. Your doctor might advise you to do physical therapy, or they could give you pain medicine or corticosteroid injections.

You might also be referred to a specialist.

What is Whiplash?

You may have heard the term whiplash before without really understanding what it is.

Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs because of a rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck that is also forceful. It’s very often caused by rear-end car accidents, but it can also occur because of falling, sports accidents or other types of trauma.

Symptoms of whiplash include:
  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Worsening pain when you move your neck
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches that typically start at the skull base
  • Tenderness or pain in the upper shoulder, upper arms, or upper back
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
Sometimes people have other symptoms, too, like blurred vision or ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus. Sleep disturbances, memory problems or depression can stem from whiplash too.

If you have whiplash, you may start to feel better in a few weeks and there might not be any lasting effects, but for some people, the pain or symptoms can last for months or years.

You could end up with chronic pain, particularly if you had more severe symptoms right after you were injured.

Also read How to Relieve Neck Pain

How to Deal with Neck Pain at Home

If you have neck pain, you should speak to your doctor, particularly if you were in an accident recently.

You can take steps to relieve it at home, with your doctor’s approval, including using good posture and slowly stretching your neck every day. You should also rest until your symptoms get better.

Gentle neck massages and using a special sleeping pillow can help, but you should not use a neck brace without your doctor’s approval because that can make symptoms worse.

Overall, the outlook for neck pain is good in most cases, but don’t let it go ignored because that can turn an acute injury into a chronic pain situation. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing.