How Can I Relieve My Neck Pain?
Normal neck pain is often described as muscle tightness or muscle spasms, which are sometimes accompanied by decreased mobility in the neck and pain from holding the head in one place for too long. Neck pain can be caused by worn joints, injury, compression of nerves or strains, among other things. It can also be chronic, or last longer than several weeks or months. In this case, the pain is usually due to spinal or nerve damage.
Diagnoses and Treatment
To help doctors in managing your pain, it is a good idea to keep a journal of when, where and how bad your pain is. Be sure to include if and what makes your neck feel better or worse, and which positions cause the most and least pain. Rating your pain on a scale of 0, no pain, to 10, the worst imaginable pain, is a good way for your doctor to understand the severity of pain you’re experiencing.
Your doctor will compile your medical history and perform a physical examination. X-rays may be taken to enable your doctor to see if there are any abnormalities in the bone or muscles. A CT scan or MRI can be used to see further into the bone and tissue. Blood tests can determine if there are any underlying conditions that are contributing to your pain.
Medications or physical therapy are most often used to treat neck pain. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help relieve pain though your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication. Physical therapy, which involves specialized stretches or exercises, has proven to be very effective in relieving neck pain. If nerves are causing your pain, steroid injections may be injected directly into the nerve itself. In the most severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct nerve or spinal issues.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have neck pain accompanied by headache, weakness, tingling or numbness, or if it spreads to another part of the body.