Neck pain, also referred to as cervical pain, is among the most common medical conditions. Close to 10% of the adult population around the globe experiences pain or stiffness in the neck at some point in their life.
What Causes It?
There are many medical conditions, disorders, and even infections that can cause neck pain. The notable causes of neck pain include:
- Excessive strain on the neck
- Injury, such as whiplash
- Nerve pinching
- Disc hernia
- Degenerative disc disease
- Swelling of the lymph node
- Bone infection
- Tuberculosis (of the neck)
A poor sleeping position or using a hard pillow can also cause neck pain.
The common risk factors for neck pain include:
- Engaging in intense physical activity with a risk of injury or strain, such as contact sports and manual labor
- Repetitive motions that involve the neck muscles
- Cervical Dysfunction
- Osteoarthritis affecting the neck vertebrae
Some medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing pain in the neck. These include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lung cancer, which may affect the bones in your shoulders
- Septic arthritis, or any other severe infection
The most obvious symptom of neck pain is a dull aching sensation. The discomfort might exacerbate when you move or tilt your neck to one side. Other common symptoms include:
- Swelling of the lymph node
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Trouble swallowing
- Shooting pain in the neck
- Tingling sensations
Some symptoms of neck pain may surface in the adjoining areas, including
- Facial pain
- Numbness in the arms
- Shoulder pain
- Spinal inflammation
When the nerves in your neck are pinched, the pain signals may spread to different parts of the body.
Surgery is not the ideal solution for neck pain. In the case of mild discomfort, you may find relief with rest, medication, and physical therapy. However, in severe cases, you should opt for intensive non-surgical treatments. If the problem is caused by inflammation of the spinal nerves, a Cervical Epidural Injection can be the ideal treatment option. Other treatment options include:
- Lifestyle Changes: Your doctor might recommend making some lifestyle changes, particularly in terms of activities that place strain on your neck
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy has proven effective for treating neck pain caused by injuries
- Interventional Pain Management: Your doctor will use ultrasound and X-ray technology to administer medication to the affected area
In case the pain is caused by an underlying medical condition, treating the root cause can help alleviate the neck pain.
When to Request an Evaluation?
If you have persistent neck pain that does not go away in a couple of days with rest and medication, you should request an evaluation without delay. You can schedule an evaluation as soon as you start experiencing neck pain, in case it is severe.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Your doctor will ask you about the symptoms, duration, and intensity of the neck pain. You might also have to answer questions about your lifestyle.