General Information Regarding Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common complaint of numerous people around the world. Neck pain can be associated with damage to different tissues of the neck as well as organs, blood vessels and nerves of the neck. It is essential to identify the underlying cause of neck pain because only this way a suitable treatment can be determined.
Patients are usually able to precisely localize the pain in the neck and to provide with more information about its characteristics. For example, the pain can be described as shooting (it radiates towards the nearby structures such as the shoulder or the arm). There may also be additional complaints such as numbness or loss of strength in the arms or hands and one is simply not able to touch his/her chin to the chest.
There are numerous causes of neck pain. It can develop as a consequence of muscle strain or occur due to worn joints. Nerve compression is another common cause of neck pain. Nerve compression is a complication of several conditions such as stiffened intervertebral discs, bone spurs and herniated discs. Neck pain also affects people who have had neck injuries and those suffering from certain medical conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis and cancer).
Therapy for Neck Pain
Minor neck pain non-related to serious injury or complex medical conditions may be successfully brought under control and respond well to home care. However, if the pain persists it is important to consult a doctor who will determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment.
Medicamentous treatment for neck pain comprises of pain killers and medications that can reduce inflammation. There are different groups of pain killers and the doctor chooses the most convenient one. Additional help is obtained from muscle relaxants. They do not reduce pain directly but provide with pain relieve by relaxing stiffened muscles. The pain in certain number of patients can be alleviated with antidepressants. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids are commonly injected. Temporary pain relief is also obtained with injections of numbing medications such as lidocaine.
Patients suffering from neck pain are advised to engage in specific exercises. The rehabilitation program and exercises are created by a well-experienced physical therapist. Apart from pain reduction such exercises strengthen the neck muscles and increase the range of motion in this area.
Traction is another treatment modality for neck pain. It uses weights and pulleys in order to stretch the neck. Immobilization includes wearing a soft collar. The collar supports the neck and reduces the pressure associated with pain. And finally, some patients may require surgical treatment because the underlying cause cannot be brought under control with conservative treatments.