NECK PAIN – An Overview

By avn
5:31 am Posted June 10, 2016
In Neck Pain

Neck Pain is incredibly common. Research proves that at least 70% of the population suffers from some form of neck pain. This neck pain can range from a minor annoyance to a complete crippling disorder. Unfortunately, many people just accept neck pain as Normal and a part of life. This isn’t right. Neck pain isn’t normal.

There are two basic types of pain: ACUTE & CHRONIC and It is always good to know the type of pain you are dealing with.

Acute pain is severe and sudden in onset. It’s a flare-up of pain. It could be because of a trauma or sometimes not. A car collision and a neck injury because of it is an example of acute traumatic pain while a wrong posture while sleeping is a good example of acute but non-traumatic pain.

Chronic pain is more of a long-term, recurring pain. It could be a carryover from a previous injury that never healed completely or it could be because of imbalances in the body that have not yet been diagnosed.

Pain is just one of the ways our body communicates with us. For e.g., imagine touching a hot pan. You want to feel pain. Pain is what tells us to let go. It is essential we feel pain in this case. However, CHRONIC PAIN is an indication that something isn’t right.

Symptoms of Neck Pain:

The most common symptoms that people with neck pain experience are :

    • Muscle Spasm:

A spasm is a sudden powerful involuntary contraction of muscles.If you experience a neck spasm, moving the neck becomes extremely painful.

    • Muscle Ache:

The neck muscles are sore and may have hard knots that are tender to touch.

    • Stiffness:

The neck muscles are tight and if you spend too much time in the same position, they become tighter making it very difficult to move your neck.

    • Nerve pain:

Pain from the neck can radiate down the arms and sometime down your legs. The sensation is similar to that of pin-prick, tingling on the arms , which may be accompanied by numbness, weakness or a burning sensation. This type of pain typically worsens in the nights.

    • Headaches :

Headaches are very common in conjunction with neck problems.They are usually a dull ache which are felt at the back of the head and sometimes radiating to the sides and front of the head.

    • Reduced range of motion:

If you aren’t able to turn your head to the sides to the same degree towards each of your shoulders or feel limited on how far you can bend your head towards your chest or how far you can tilt your head back, you may have reduced range of motion.

Causes of Neck Pain:

Neck Pain can be caused by

  • An activity that harms the neck.
  • An injury.
  • A medical condition.

Activities that cause neck pain:

Most instances of neck pain are caused due to prolonged or repeated movements of the neck that normally results in a strain or a sprain or a spasm of the neck muscles.

Examples of such activities include holding your head in a particular position for a prolonged period of time while watching TV, talking on the phone, sleeping with a pillow that is too flat or too high , resting your head on your arms or fist for a long time,etc.

Injuries that cause neck pain:

  • Minor injuries may occur from tripping or falling a short distance.
  • Severe neck injuries may occur from
  • A Whiplash from a car accident. A whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly forced forward and then snapped backward causing stretching or tearing of the muscles and ligaments in the neck.
  • A fall from a significant height.
  • Sporting accidents.

Medical Conditions that cause neck pain :

    • Cervical Spinal Stenosis

This denotes the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck. This can change how the spinal cord functions and can cause pain, stiffness, numbness or weakness in the neck, arms & legs.

    • Cervical Spondylosis

This denotes the change to the bones,joints,discs in the neck as a result of disc degeneration resulting in pain.

    • Meningitis

This causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and the spinal cord.

    • Fibromyalgia

This causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues resulting in tenderness and pain when there is no injury or inflammation.

    • Rheumatoid Arthritis

When RA affects the neck joints, bones and the joints may dislocate and pinch the nerves causing numbness, pain, weakness, tingling sensation, loss of bowel/bladder control.

    • Torticollis

This is caused by severe muscle tightness or a shortened muscle on one side of the neck, causing the head to remain tilted to one side.

    • Referred pain

This occurs when a problem in one place causes pain in another place in the body. For eg, a heart attack can cause neck pain.

Classification of Neck pain :

There are three ways to classify the neck pain.

    • Axial Neckpain

This is musculoskeletal and is pure neck or soft tissue pain. Whiplash or muscle strain is a good example.

    • Radiculopathy

This refers to the pain in the neck and arms due to nerve root compression. This is shooting pain that travels from the neck and down to the arms and hands.

    • Myelopathy

This refers to pressure on the spinal cord that is also called the spinal cord compression resulting in numbness,pain and weekness.

All the three types of pain maybe acute or chronic.

Treatment of Neck Pain :

Many types of acute neck pain heal quickly with the help of pain medications, heat/ice therapy and physiotherapy. The doctor might also recommend the use of traction or in some severe cases, even surgery to prevent recurring pain.

Ayurveda recommends herbal therapy and Yoga exercises for the treatment of neck pain. The Panchakarma treatment is also being used successfully to help patients with pain relief. The right combination of these therapies not only promises pain relief but also ensure that there is no further recurrence of pain.

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