A User’s Guide to the Neck: When Pain isn’t Just Pain

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A User’s Guide to the Neck: When Pain isn’t Just Pain

Experiencing neck pain can come from something as innocuous as sleeping in an awkward position or turning your head too quickly at the wrong angle. While simple causes like this can still leave you reaching for pain medications or massaging your neck for a day or two, relief usually comes quickly. A 2006 study by the Duke University School of Medicine determined that 30-50% of Americans experience neck pain every year, and 50-85% of them never see a complete resolution of their symptoms and may go on to develop chronic pain conditions. When is neck pain just uncomfortable, and when does it require professional care?

Neck Pain for Beginners

The seven cervical vertebrae in the spine and their supporting soft tissues make up our neck, which not only supports the weight of our head, but which also allows for the most mobility of any section in the spine. The problem with great mobility is the great possibility of fatigue, injury, or damage from things like muscle weakness to degeneration and even outside forces (think: whiplash or impact injuries). Also, when the spaces between the bones narrow, or when the neck loses its natural curve because of poor posture, it can cause the inter-vertebral discs to compress the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord, resulting in pain and in some cases, disability.

When is Neck Pain More than Just a Pain?

It’s common to experience some discomfort from things like muscle tension, poor posture, or excessive activity, but when the pain doesn’t go away in a day or two, or when it starts to migrate or causes other problems, it’s time to seek professional intervention.

If the Neck Pain is Muscular:

  • Bring some relief to sore muscles by applying dry or moist heat
  • If possible, get a massage to bring fresh blood to the muscles and to help relieve inflammation
  • Tightly roll a small bath towel and place it under the neck while you lie on the floor, to help the muscles of the neck and shoulders relax and to release the weight of the head
  • Take it easy for a day or two, to rest the muscles in the neck before normal activity is gradually resumed

Seek Medical Care Immediately If:

  • The neck pain results from a serious blow or injury to the back, neck, or head
  • If pain or weakness radiates down the arms or legs
  • If headache, tingling or numbness occur with the pain
  • If sensations of neck stiffness occur with fever, vomiting, or light sensitivity, as this could indicate a serious, contagious illness that could be rapidly become fatal

Need Neck Pain Relief?

Arkansas Pioneer offers an alternative to surgery for back and neck pain that consistently provides relief to patients. We encourage you to reach out to us today to learn more about how our effective treatments can relieve your neck pain!

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