Neck pain, or cervicalgia, is a common complaint. Many individuals will experience some kind of neck pain or stiffness in their lifetime. Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a serious condition and can often be relieved within a few days. However, there are several instances where neck pain can be an indicator of a more serious injury or illness that would require the attention of a medical professional. Let’s take a look at the reasons why your neck may be hurting and some of the ways that it can be treated.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
There are a lot of culprits to which you might attribute neck pain, some more serious than others. Some of the most common causes of neck pain include:
- Poor posture
- Repetitive motion
- Spinal muscle strain and tension
- Poor sleeping habits
- Gritting your teeth
- Carrying a heavy purse for extended periods of time
- Pinched nerves
- Injuries, ranging from sports injuries to car accidents involving whiplash
Sometimes, neck pain could also be a symptom of other serious medical conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart attack
- Spondylosis, or osteoarthritis of the neck
- Herniated cervical disk
- Spinal stenosis
If your neck pain is brought about by one of these medical conditions, seek advice from a medical professional on how to treat it. A good rule of thumb: if neck pain persists for longer than a week and is accompanied by other severe symptoms, it’s time to call your doctor.
Common Treatments for Neck Pain
Ultimately, how you treat neck pain will depend on the diagnosis. In most cases, your neck should stop hurting within a few days. Treatment can include:
- Ice and heat therapy
- Exercise, stretching and physical therapy
- Pain medication
- Corticosteroid injections
- Muscle relaxants
- Neck collar
- Antibiotics, if there’s an infection
- Hospital treatment, if a condition such as meningitis or heart attack is the cause
If you’re suffering from minor neck pain or stiffness, there are some simple at home remedies that you can try to alleviate the pain. These include:
- Applying ice for the first few days. After that, applying heat with a heating pad, hot compress or by taking a hot shower.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Avoiding activities that could aggravate your symptoms, like sports or heavy lifting. When resuming these activities, start back slowly.
- Stretching your neck every day.
- Using good posture.
- Avoiding standing or sitting in one position for too long.
- Getting a gentle neck massage.
- Using a special neck pillow for sleeping.
Keep in mind that certain conditions require more immediate attention than others. Your individual body and circumstances are different from other people’s. It is always best to speak with a medical professional for any potentially serious condition and to follow their advice. At Citrus Spine, we would be happy to help you understand your care options for neck pain. Contact us today.