The neck, also known as the cervical spine, is the coordination of a network of bones, muscles, nerves, and joints, instructed by the spinal cord and the brain. It is meant for nerve communication and gives strength and stability to the head, back, and spinal cord.
Acute Neck Pain – Types of Neck Pain
Most types of acute neck pain are caused because of a muscle strain or sprain in the other soft tissues like the ligaments and/or tendons. This type of neck pain can be due to a sudden force, such as a whiplash, resulting from a car accident.
It could also result from straining the neck, which can be caused by sleeping in an awkward position that can make your neck feel stiff and uncomfortable to move.
If it’s a minor injury to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck, it should usually heal by itself with time (in a couple of days/weeks). This is because the soft tissues have a good blood supply of the necessary proteins and nutrients required for proper healing.
Non-surgical care like ice packs and/or heated packs, physical therapy, medications, and/or osteopathic or chiropractic treatments can help relieve pain.
For those having neck pain that’s lasted longer than two weeks or three months, or who have predominant arm pain, tingling, or numbness, it means that there is a specific abnormality that’s causing the prolonging symptoms.
Common Neck Pain Causes: Strains and Sprains
The most common neck pain issues, which are sprains and strains, usually heal on their own, within a few days or weeks.
Common causes of neck strains and sprains include:
- Sleeping in the wrong position. You might wake up with neck pain because you’ve slept in an awkward position; also known as a “crick” in the neck.
- Sports injury.
- Poor posture, whether it’s at home, work, and/or commuting.
- Rapid and repetitive motion.
- Holding the head in an unusual position for a long time.
- Whiplash – where the head and neck are suddenly forced backward and then immediately forward with a lot of force.
How Is Neck Pain Treated?
If your neck pain is not very severe and didn’t begin due to trauma, then it can normally be treated by yourself. Self-care options for your neck pain can include:
- Resting or going easy for a few days can help while the neck tendons and muscles heal on their own. It is important to avoid any strenuous movements or activities that could cause more neck pain.
- Applying ice and/or heat packs can work as a great anti-inflammatory and will reduce the pain and swelling quickly.
- Get a massage. Massages can help soothe neck muscle spasms and tension to reduce pain.
- Practice Better posture.
- Modify your lifestyle. If certain activities are found to cause neck pain that keeps coming back, then those activities might need to be limited or avoided.
- Over-the-counter medications like pain relievers can help reduce pain and inflammation.
If your neck pain lasts more than a month or keeps coming back even after practicing the above self-help options, or if you are experiencing any other troublesome symptoms like neurological symptoms, then you should consult a professional doctor for a thorough evaluation.
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