If you’re suffering from neck pain, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from neck people – those who are young and those who are old. You may wonder why you have neck pain and how you can treat it. Unfortunately, neck pain can be caused by a number of various issues – which is why it is essential to see your doctor.
Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain medications may help ease the pain for a while. However, if there is a serious problem, those medications aren’t helping the problem — they’re just helping you deal with the pain. If you are living with neck pain, it is important to be aware of the causes and be aware of the treatment options available.
What is neck pain? How is it caused?
Your neck consists of vertebrae that begin at the skull and end at the upper torso. Between the bones are cervical discs, which absorb the shock. Your head is supported and allowed to move with help from the bones, ligaments, and muscles in the neck. Neck pain can be caused by any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury.
Neck pain isn’t necessarily permanent and can affect anyone from time to time. Remember, the neck supports the weight of the head, and heads weigh around 10 pounds. Our head should sit at the center of the spine when we are sitting or standing. However, many activities give us the opportunity to slouch and tilt our heads forward – like sitting at a desk for long hours, playing video games, eating, sleeping, etc. Many times, people experience neck pain because of poor posture or overuse. With poor posture, we can experience muscle strains or spasms. Some others may also experience neck pain from an injury to the neck or head from sports, whiplash, or even a fall.
Here are some of the most common causes of neck pain:
- Trauma or injury
- Poor posture
- Muscle strain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart attack
Neck pain isn’t always a serious condition and can usually be relieved in as little as a few days. However, there are more serious cases which will require a doctor’s care and evaluation. If your neck pain continues to persist for over a week, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can.
When should you see a doctor?
There are many cases of neck pain that improve on their own, but not all of them do. If your neck pain is due to recent work-related activities or recreational activities, it is likely that the pain will lessen on its own. However, you should visit your doctor if you have had a serious injury, your neck pain is very severe, or if the pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Headaches or fever
- Weight loss
- Intense pain at night
- Difficulty walking
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the fingers, arms, or legs
- Bladder, bowel, or sexual function issues
- Chest pressure or discomfort
If you are not sure if you should see a doctor, it is a good rule of thumb to set up the appointment. If the problem is serious, the longer you wait, the more the pain could worsen.
What are the treatment options?
The treatment options will vary depending on what your doctor and you choose to decide. The doctor will initially perform a physical exam and ask for your medical history. Be ready to tell your doctor about any symptoms you have been experiencing.
In order to give you a treatment plan, your doctor will need to find a diagnosis. The doctor might need to run a couple of tests, which might include blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, electromyography, or a lumbar puncture.
Once you have been diagnosed, the doctor will either create a treatment plan for you or send you to a specialist who can create one for you. The most popular treatment options are below:
- Ice and heat therapy
- Exercise, stretching, and physical therapy
- Pain medication
- Corticosteroid injections
- Muscle relaxants
- Neck collar
- Antibiotics (if you have an infection)
- Surgery (rarely necessary)
The South Texas Spinal Clinic
If you are experiencing neck pain, you don’t have to be living with unnecessary pain. Your pain ends here – at the South Texas Spinal Clinic. Our doctors are specialists in spinal care and surgeries. Spinal surgery might not even be an option, but there is only one way to find out. Call 210-614-6432 to set up an appointment today.