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Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders. It’s usually not serious and often resolves itself with time and patience.
While neck pain can be mild, annoying and last a few days or weeks. Sometimes, it causes a serious and disabling discomfort that persists for years.
Everyone’s experience with neck pain is different. And that’s because the neck is a complicated structure.
There are 7 vertebral bones in your neck. They sit on top of each other and connect via facet joints, discs and ligaments. Muscles move and support all the structures in your neck.
While the body does a good job at protecting your neck, it’s still susceptible to problems.
Structural issues can occur in any of the areas listed above.
Poor posture strains the neck muscles.
Injuries can misalign the neck.
Nerves that flow through the neck can dysfunction.
Infections may settle in the cervical vertebrae (neck area).
Neck pain symptoms may occur only in the neck area. But, they can also radiate down through your shoulders and upper back. The pain may be dull, ache or feel sharp and move in a shooting fashion. In extreme cases, this can impact your ability to move and lift even the lightest objects.
Studies show that you have an increased risk of neck pain if you’re:
Having anxiety or depression also increases your risk of neck pain. This is because they alter how the brain registers and processes pain signals. Plus, anxiety and depression are associated with tension in the neck and shoulders.
If you’re concerned about neck pain, it’s best to have it investigated by a health professional.
Depending on your situation, a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Osteopath or Doctor can assess you. They’ll use varying techniques to check your range of movement, strength and posture. Other medical tests can be ordered if needed, including:
Jennifer Grey, the Dirty Dancing actress, knows what it’s like to suffer with debilitating neck pain.
She was in a horrendous car accident soon after filming of the classic film wrapped. Her injury was so bad that Jennifer couldn’t lift her head up for the next 30 years. She suffered from chronic neck pain and endured many surgeries as neck pain treatment. Physical therapy and neck pain exercises also helped Jennifer’s recovery. Fortunately, she became strong enough to perform in the 2010 version of Dancing With The Stars.
This was great news, however….
Another tragedy struck when Jennifer’s final routine ruptured a disc in her neck. The type of injury left her unaware of what had happened until 9 hours later. Yet again, Jennifer had neck surgery. Luckily, this time, she started feeling better the same day.
Neck pain symptoms vary depending upon the cause. You may experience one or more of the following:
Neck pain treatment aims to decrease discomfort and increase mobility. The best neck pain treatments target the cause of the problem and may be as simple as neck pain exercises. Allopathic options can include:
Neck pain causes discomfort in the neck, shoulders and/or upper back. This may occur because of:
Physiotherapy – This may be the first thing you do when you notice neck pain symptoms. A physio will carefully examine your neck and range of motion to assess your condition. They may give you rest instructions and tips for changing your environment/habits. If you’re ready, they could use massage and show you neck pain exercises to speed your recovery.
Osteopathy – A gentle, hands-on treatment for neck pain symptoms. Osteopathic techniques help to ease inflammation, improve blood flow and free neck joints. Massage and muscle manipulation is usually used.
Chiropractic Care – Involves manipulating the vertebrae in the cervical spine. It’s beneficial if the spine is misaligned or if discomfort relates to poor posture or nerve impingement. Look for chiropractors who specialise in cervical spine health.
Myotherapy – Helps to reduce muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder and upper back. It can provide pain relief and improve the flow of healing nutrients to damaged areas.
Massage – Useful if tight muscles or stress is contributing to your neck pain symptoms. Remedial massage therapy will give you the best results.
Neck Pain Exercises – Gentle neck exercises can help speed your recovery. They encourage blood, oxygen and nutrients to reach the site of healing. Plus, they help you maintain – even improve – your range of motion. Knowing when it’s safe to perform neck pain exercises is key. If you’ve had a neck injury, please consult a healthcare professional before you begin.
Here’s a video for when you’re ready to get started with your neck pain exercises:
Supplements – Vitamins, minerals and herbs can help with pain, inflammation and healing. They’re also a great alternative to medications that have side effects, e.g. NSAIDs.
Acupuncture – Inserting needles into special acupuncture points can benefit many neck pain causes. It improves blood flow, opens energy channels for healing and provides pain relief.
The following health experts can help with you feel better:
Here’s how to support someone with neck pain:
What are 5 neck pain causes?
What are good neck pain treatments?
How do I know if my neck pain is serious?
Neck pain often heals by itself over a period of days or weeks. However, it’s important to see your doctor if your suffering: