Neck pain comes in many forms and is a common complaint among middle-aged adults. Symptoms vary depending on the cause and typically range from mild to severe. Traditional Western medicine and alternative neck pain chiropractic treatment can alleviate acute and chronic symptoms.
Types of Neck Pain
Neck pain is classified as either acute or chronic. Acute neck pain occurs suddenly, usually after an identifiable event, and lasts less than three months. Chronic neck pain lasts for three months or more and is typically associated with a lingering injury, or various medical conditions, such as a degenerative disease. Neck pain can occur on one or both sides of the neck and may cause a range of motion limitations and impair body movement patterns.
The most common forms of neck pain include:
The musculature of the neck/shoulders, soft tissues, or bones in the cervical spine
Occurs when a nerve that exit your cervical spine becomes compressed due to bone spurs, a bulging disk, or by tense neck and shoulder muscles
Nerve root compression, irritation, or injury as the nerve exits the spine
Pain is felt in the neck even though it originates from somewhere else
These conditions can cause a wide array of pain characteristics. In fact, neck pain suffers may describe their pain as being achy, dull, tight, sharp, stabbing, stiff, radiating, and throbbing with or without popping and cracking, and in some cases associated numbness, tingling, and weakness. Symptoms may come and go throughout the day, or they may only occur with certain activities or movements.
Neck Pain Causes
Neck pain has been associated with several different causes including:
- Accidents, injuries, or trauma
- Car accident with associated whiplash
- Physical assault
- Sports-related injury
- Medical conditions including, cancer, congenital defects, infection, and, amongst others, tumors
- Muscle strain or tear
- Poor posture
- Nerve injury or compression
- Soft tissue injuries (ligaments)
- Proper identification of the cause early on can put you on the road to recovery faster and hopefully prevent ongoing problems.
- Treatment Options for Neck Pain
Conservative care is usually the front-line treatment recommendation for neck pain because it tends to be a self-limiting condition, which means it resolves itself over time. Traditional medicine treatment options typically include rest, heat, ice, medications, i.e., over the counter pain relievers or muscle relaxants, and physical therapy.
More aggressive treatment options include soft collar bracing, injections, traction, and in more severe cases, surgery. Neck pain chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, massage, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices are also suitable alternative treatment options to help alleviate symptoms.
Prevention Strategies for Neck Pain
Neck pain can be problematic for anyone, especially if it interferes with your daily activities. Keep in mind there are many strategies you can employ to alleviate your symptoms and prevent neck pain in the future. Experts recommend incorporating some of the following tips into your daily regime:
- Ensure your workstation is ergonomically sound.
- Give yourself a posture check from time to time as slouching over cell phones and computers all day is becoming a common cause of neck pain.
- Maintain proper body alignment while sleeping.
- Take regular breaks and stretch your muscles throughout the day to decrease neck and shoulder tension.
Finally, consider trying some meditation and relaxation exercises to reduce muscle tension and prevent neck pain.