Neck pain is one of the most common problems experienced by people today and most people have experienced neck pain at one time in their lives. There are many different causes of neck pain most of which aren't serious and the pain clears within a few days. However there are other causes of neck pain that may be due to underlying causes that need medical treatment. Proper diagnosis of prolonged neck pain or pain due to injury is necessary to evaluate treatment options.
Possible causes of neck pain:
- Improper posture (whether it be from working on a computer, operating machinery, hunched over school books, or from various extracurricular hobbies, etc.)
- Neck strain injuries (common to automobile accidents causing whiplash, sports injuries, or falls.)
- Sleeping improperly
- Herniated disc
- Pinched nerve
- Disc degeneration
- Common infections such as virus infections of the throat that cause swelling
- Other more rare causes such as meningitis or cancer
With the main symptom of neck pain being centralized pain, many people experience pain radiating through their shoulders and back. If you experience any of the following symptoms or pain that doesn't go away within a few days you should consult your physician or a specialist at SCCNS.
Symptoms to be aware of:
- Shooting pain into your shoulder or down your arm.
- Inability to touch your chin to your chest.
- Numbness in arms or hands.
- Loss of feeling or strength in arm or hands.
- Stiff neck combined with any combination of dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
- Headache or sensitivity to light.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Loss of balance.
- Inability to urinate.
Because there are so many different variables associated with neck pain, your doctor will need to gather pertinent medical history from you as well as identifying your symptoms, location of pain, onset of pain, etc. Because of the varying conditions that are associated with neck pain your doctor may order Xrays, CT scans or an MRI in order to rule out underlying conditions. Nerve tests can also be done if cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve) is suspected. Certain lab tests may also be ordered if necessary to rule out inflammatory or infectious conditions that may be associated with neck pain.
The treatment for neck pain will vary and is dependent on the cause of the neck pain. Neck pain from non serious causes can be treated conservatively and include rest, hot or cold applications to the area, topical pain creams or patches, traction or soft collar traction, physical therapy, and possibly pain medication. Local injections of cortisone may be necessary to alleviate the pain of some types of injuries that might take longer to heal. More serious injuries or pain caused from herniated discs or disc degeneration may require surgery. The experts at SCCNS will evaluate each patient on an individual basis to determine which treatment will be the least invasive and provide the most benefit to the patient.