Neck Pain: Getting Professional Help
Neck pain is a common complaint; we help patients assess and treat chronic neck discomfort.
Pain in the neck area is commonly associated with significant levels of disability and is considered an important public health problem in the United States. It is defined as pain perceived between the superior nuchal line and the spinous process of an individual’s first thoracic vertebra. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture — whether it’s leaning over your computer or hunching over your workbench. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain, as are injuries, such as a car accident or fall.
Neck and low back pain (NLBP) are among the most frequent reasons that people visit a general practitioner (GP), pain specialist or physiotherapist. These individuals need to understand their condition and where to gain effective treatment.
Signs and symptoms of neck pain include:
- Pain that’s often worsened by holding your head in one place for long periods, such as when driving or working at a computer
- Muscle tightness and spasms
- Decreased ability to move your head
Is Neck Pain a Sign of Something More Serious?
It is a common question and a great question. Often people experience pain in one or the other side of the neck. Typically, the pain occurs because of a muscle strain or another benign cause. Neck pain often comes and goes with simple muscle strains.
However, whenever you experience severe, chronic, or prolonged neck pain, call and see your doctor. Here at Minnesota Head & Neck Pain Clinic, we’ll find the root cause of your pain and guide you in non-invasive methods of managing that injury.
What are Common Causes of Neck Pain?
This needs an individual assessment before providing a more specific answer. Common medical conditions that impact neck pain are stress, poor posture, neck injury such as in whiplash, mental and physical stress and strain, overworking your muscles without proper rest, degenerative disc disease, neck strain, osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis, spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve (called cervical radiculopathy).
Who is at High Risk for Painful Neck Issues?
Anyone who plays a rough physical contact sport is at risk. As well, neck pain is common among adults, although it does occur at every age. According to the Global Burden of Diseases 2017, the highest prevalence of neck pain occurs during people’s middle ages and declines in later and less active years. The highest percentages occur in the 45–49 and 50–54 age groups for men and women, respectively.
What are the Symptoms if a Herniated Disc Causes Neck Pain?
People who suffer from a herniated cervical disc typically feel a pain that radiates down their arms and sometimes into their hands. Pain points on or near your shoulder blade may also trigger neck pain when turning your head or bending your neck forward. Neck muscle spasms (meaning the muscles tighten uncontrollably) may follow.
What kind of Medical Specialist do I see for Neck Muscle Pain?
If you have persistent neck pain an Orofacial Pain Specialist or orthopedist may be the right person to see. An orthopedist may be needed if surgery is necessary as they are knowledgeable about the human skeleton and its structures. When it comes to treating neck pain, we recommend trying conservative, nonsurgical methods first. This is where an Orofacial Pain Specialist is perfect.
What Self-Care Things Can I Do to Prevent Neck Issues?
Most painful neck issues are worsened or caused by poor posture combined with wear and tear over time. To help prevent neck complications, keep your head centered over your spine. Several simple daily routine checks may help. Try to:
- Maintain good posture. How your neck functions when you stand or sit matters. Try keeping your shoulders in a straight line above your hips; your ears should align directly over your shoulders and not more forward.
- Plan scheduled breaks. When sitting or traveling for lengthy hours, set a timer to remind you to get up, move and stretch your neck and shoulders to maintain agility.
- Avoid carrying items inappropriately. When our hands are already multitasking, it’s too easy to use one’s ear and shoulder for holding a phone or other item when talking. Instead, buy a headset or speakerphone that will protect this poor posture.
- If you smoke, stop! Case studies indicate that cigarette or cigar smoking can put you at higher risk of triggering neck discomfort and lower health.
- Adjust your desk, chair, and computer so that the monitor is at eye level. Knees should be slightly lower than hips. Use your chair’s armrests.
- Avoid carrying heavy items that rely on shoulder straps. This added weight can strain your neck and its normal position when walking.
- Protect yourself when sleeping. Your head and neck should be comfortably aligned with your body. A small pillow under your neck can offer it needed support. By sleeping on your back and maintaining an elevated position for your thighs (use pillows), it will flatten your spinal muscles.
How Common is Neck pain?
“Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, having an age-standardised prevalence rate of 27.0 per 1000 population in 2019”, according to Mark J M Sullman writing for the National Institute of Health.
His January 3, 2022 Neck Pain: Global Epidemiology, Trends and Risk Factors article talks about the psychological risk factors, such as long-term stress, lack of social support, anxiety, and depression are important risk factors for neck pain. In regards to the biological risks, neck pain might occur as a result of specific diseases; including neuromusculoskeletal disorders, like TMD, or autoimmune diseases. There is also evidence that demographic characteristics, such as age and gender, may impact the prevalence and how neck pain develops.
When is Neck Pain a Serious Issue?
Severe neck pain resulting from things like a car accident injury, sports accident, or a fall should be checked out immediately by a medical professional. See your physician if you experience the following:
- If the pain persists over multiple days.
- Is acute.
- Travels into your limbs, especially arms and legs.
- Is accompanied by headaches, a loss of sensation or feeling in a part of your body, weakness, or tingling.
- If NSAIDs and gentle stretching home treatments fail to relieve the pain.
Although most painful episodes resolve spontaneously, more than a third of people impacted still have low-grade symptoms or recurrences more than one year later, taking into consideration that genetics and psychosocial factors may be risk factors for persistence. Nearly half of people with chronic neck issues have mixed neuropathic-nociceptive symptoms or predominantly neuropathic symptoms. Take action before issues may become a pain disorder.
While poor posture commonly causes neck pain, addition pain symptoms may surface if left untreated.
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“MHNPC is a great clinic with amazing staff! The relief in my neck has been life changing!!!” – Tia Reichert
Our clinicians have a broad range of mostly non‐pharmacological evidence‐based treatment options available for you. Each person’s symptoms and medical are individually assessed and a plan for care will be put in place.
Don’t delay if you need help. Neck pain and TMJ are often related. Call today: (763) 577-2484