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Neck Pain Causes

Neck pain

Neck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include the muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), and the disks between the bones. The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments and muscles provide stability to the spine. These muscles allow for support and motion.

The neck supports the weight of the head and is responsible for a significant amount of motion. Because the neck is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injuries that produce pain and can drastically limit motion.

Causes

  • Whiplash - An injury to the soft tissues of the neck from a sudden jerking or "whipping" of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion.
  • Arthritis - Cervical Spondylitis is Arthritis of the Neck. Like the rest of the body, the bones in the neck (cervical spine) slowly degenerate as we age. More than 85% of people over age 60 are affected. Although it is a form of arthritis, cervical spondylitis rarely becomes a crippling or disabling type.
  • Muscle strains - Overuse such as too many hours hunched over a desk/computer, often triggers muscle strains. Sleeping in a position that strains the neck, such as with a pillow that is too high or too firm. Even such minor things as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
  • Nerve compression - Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can take up too much space and press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
  • Diseases - Neck pain can sometimes be caused by diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.

Home Care

  • For minor, common causes of neck pain:
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Apply heat or ice to the painful area.
    • One good method is to use ice for the first 48 - 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with hot showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad.
  • Stop normal physical activity for the first few days to reduce inflammation.
  • Gently stretch the neck muscles. (up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear)
  • Gently massage the sore areas.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.
  • Use a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort.

When Should You Seek Medical Care?
If severe neck pain occurs following an injury (motor vehicle accident, diving accident, or fall), medical care should be sought immediately.

If there has not been an injury, you should seek medical care when neck pain is:

  • Continuous
  • Severe
  • Accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
  • Accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling, or weakness

Many patients seek orthopedic care for neck pain.  The Become Pain Free orthopedists are specifically trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent problems involving the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons our Become Pain Free specialist treat a wide variety of diseases, injuries, and other conditions, including neck pain. Call us today at (214) 396-3647 to find the treatment that is right for you.

to find the treatment that is right for you.

Treatment
The most common types of neck pain usually respond well to home care. If neck pain persists, your doctor may recommend other treatments.

  • Medications
  • Physical Therapy
  • Traction
  • Surgical Procedures
  • Steroid injections

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Posture and Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain is a miserable experience. Although some cases of neck pain are caused by an injury, many are simply due to poor posture. Poor posture stresses the muscles of the neck and can cause muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. Over time, the stresses of poor posture on the neck can cause degenerative diseases to develop in the discs and bones of the neck. Forward head A very commonly seen posture that puts a lot of strain on the neck is the forward head. The individual habitually thrusts the head forward, carrying it out in front of the shoulders. In this position, the weight of the head is constantly pulling on the spine and the shoulders. Sitting for hours hunched over a desk or a computer is a common cause of forward head. Many people with this habitual forward head carriage suffer from sore shoulders as well as a sore neck. Over time, the vertebrae at the base of the neck (C5 and C6) can develop painful degenerative conditions due to the constant weight of the head pulling on them in the forward head posture. Correct posture A correct posture is one that keeps the spine in alignment. Some people call it a neutral or balanced posture. One exercise to encourage a neutral posture is to focus on opening the chest wide as you try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Once your chest is open, bring your head into alignment. Think of a string pulling up the top of your head and lengthening the neck. When you do this, your chin will tuck in and your head will naturally shift into proper alignment with your spine. Do the open chest/ string exercise multiple times a day. Other exercises to build better posture are head nods and chin tucks. To do a head nod, slowly nod your head slightly up and down without moving your neck. To do chin tucks, tip your nose down toward the ground and move the top of your head backwards. Repeat head nods and chin tucks several times a day. These exercises strengthen the muscles on the front of the neck. Individuals with habitual forward head posture usually have very weak muscles in the front of the neck. If you've worked hard at correcting your posture and you are still suffering from neck pain, why not give us a call?


Note: The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither BPF Specialty Hospital, or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.