Facts about NECK PAIN
Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem nowadays, with two-thirds of the population experiencing neck pain at some point of their lives. When your neck is sore, you may have difficulty moving it, especially to one side. Many people describe this as a stiff neck. A common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension due to mechanical and postural fault. Usually, everyday activities are to be blamed. Such activities include bending over a desk for hours, placing your computer monitor too high or too low, prolonged use of a computer keyboard, having poor posture while watching TV or reading, straining the neck by cradling the phone on your shoulder for too long, a strain from carrying a heavy package or suitcase on one side, sleeping in an uncomfortable position with your neck at an improper angle, or twisting and turning the neck in a jarring manner while exercising.
Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal problems. Neck pain can be due to discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include muscles and nerves as well as spinal vertebrae and intervertebral discs. If neck pain involves nerves, you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hand, or elsewhere. Extreme accidents or falls can cause severe neck injuries like vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injury, and even paralysis.
Most minor injuries from acute neck pain to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons in the neck will heal within a couple of days or weeks, as blood supply to these structures carries nutrients and proteins to help heal the injury. There is a range of treatment options that can significantly reduce the pain and discomfort while healing is taking place.
How to treat neck pain
The plan of treatment should have 2 aspects.
The 1st thing is to reduce the pain. For this you should give rest to the musculature around your neck and shoulder. You may reduce your activities for first couple of days. Typical treatments in acute cases include applying ice to the affected for the first 72 hours before introducing heat. Oral administration of NSAIDs like Paracetamol, Diclofenac Sodium, Ibufen and local application of analgesic gels can be started. Electrical modalities like ultrasound therapy, TENS, IFT are very useful to control the pain even without any medications.
The other aspect of treatment is the preventive and curative (rehabilitative) approach. We know that the major cause of neck pain is of mechanical or postural (muscular) origin, so postural correction is needed for every individual separately to rectify the mechanical deformity. Educating good posture is also a part of the rehabilitation program. Workplace ergonomics modification, i.e. changing the interiors as needed like adjusting the height of the television or work station modification or changing sitting arrangement etc. Lifestyle modification is another important element for treating neck pain includes some don’ts like forward bending your neck for long time, using phones for long time etc. Finally the exercise part, that includes Range of Motion exercises, Static neck exercises and stretching exercises which are equally important. Do not perform activities that involve heavy lifting or twisting of your back or neck for the first few days after the pain begins. A physiotherapist can help you decide when to begin ROM, stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do them. Slowly resume your daily activity and always practice exercises as advised.