Pain 101: Neck Pain
What is Neck Pain?
Pain from the cervical spine can present as pain in the neck, upper shoulders, head (headaches) and even radiating pain or numbness down the arm or into the hand. Neck pain can be debilitating and is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor, miss work or stop participating in activities they enjoy.
Types of Neck Pain
Strains or Trauma
Strains, Trauma, or Whiplash may occur with traumatic injury, when the neck moves in an unnatural way, or when unbalanced movements are made repetitively. Symptoms can range from slight to severe pains, swelling, stiffness and loss of normal motion.
Postural Dysfunction is a common cause of neck and shoulder pain and headaches. It often leads to muscle pain, stiffness and pain radiating down the arm. Excessive computer use and jobs requiring long periods of sitting have led to a growing trend in postural dysfunction.
Arthritis/Degeneration can develop with age or as the tissue or cartilage which protects the joints wears down. This can cause painful and stiff movements, limited range of comfortable motion, and catching/locking sensations.
Pinched Nerves occur when there is excessive pressure on the nerve leading to weakness, numbness, tingling or pain radiating down the arm or into the hand.
Cervical Headaches are a common result of problems in the neck or from postural dysfunction. The majority of headaches are actually due to problems in the cervical spine. This can present as pain in the base of the skull or tension in the shoulders and head.
Postural Dysfunction is a common cause of neck pain. The increased use of computers and extended periods of sitting often leads to muscle imbalances such as tightness in the chest and shoulders and weakness in the neck and postural muscles. This can lead to muscle and joint irritation and significant neck pain.
STEPS TO NECK PAIN RELIEF
It is important when you are experiencing neck pain to limit movements that cause pain and rest so that your neck can heal.
Apply a cold pack to your neck to help with your pain and decrease irritation and inflammation in the joints and muscles. To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals
If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching and increasing the range of motion of your neck and shoulders can help loosen up your muscles and decrease the pain.
Physical therapy consists of hands-on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education/training on proper posture and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat and ultrasound.
NECK PAIN EXERCISES
Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+ for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.