Neck pain can feel debilitating. There are many options for relieving the discomfort and preventing injury.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are many neck pain causes. Muscle strains, clenching the jaw, and reading in bed are some typical triggers. The neck muscles could become fatigued from overuse. Neck joints wear with age, and osteoarthritis can be responsible for a sore neck. Sometimes nerves become compressed as a result of herniated discs or bone spurs. Whiplash and other injuries that cause the head to jerk back and forth overstretch neck tissues. There are also some diseases that can cause neck pain, including cancer, meningitis, or rheumatoid arthritis.1 For some patients, chronic neck pain is the result of cervical stenosis, nerve impingement, or myelopathy. Symptoms can progress as herniated discs worsen, or degeneration could occur over a long period of time.2 Neck pain can also have its source in cervical spondylosis, a condition caused by the “wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the cervical spine”. For patients with ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis leads to inflammation of the vertebrae, and that might also lead to neck pain and disability. Sprains, strains, tension headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, or torticollis (wry neck) are additional conditions that contribute to neck pain.3
Relief and Techniques
Neck pain relief does not necessarily need to come from a medicine bottle or a surgical procedure. Sometimes just changing the seated position, altering how a phone is held, carrying a heavy bag differently, or switching pillows can provide some resolution of neck pain. Some home remedy techniques are applying cold or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, or even massage. Massage stimulates circulation, which aids the body in healing.4 It is important to avoid activities that worsen the pain, and it is equally necessary to perform “stretching and strengthening exercises (to)…prevent stiffness”. Reducing stress would also be useful.5 Chiropractic treatment is a conservative form of healthcare for neck pain. Chiropractors are experts in treating musculoskeletal conditions such as whiplash, degenerative disorders, and common problems such as “poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles”. They can provide neck adjustments (cervical manipulation) to help restore the range of motion. In addition, chiropractors can give ergonomic advice and often teach patients rehabilitative exercises. Some offices offer massage therapy and other treatments, as well. 6 It is important for patients to follow the prescribed exercises and stretches between their chiropractic visits so that they can maximize their neck pain relief.
Find out about chiropractic care after whiplash.