Neck Pain - Health Center
By Refadoc, Posted on : Wednesday, 16 September 2015 - 2:30 pm IST
Neck Pain is a common condition affecting people all over the world. Neck muscles tend to be strained due to a poor posture. Often leaning into your computer while you are working or hunching generally can cause neck pain. The wear and tear arthritis is also one of the most common causes of neck pain.
In some of the rare cases, neck pain could be a symptom of a more serious problem. It is recommended to seek immediate medical care if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness or a loss of the strength in the arms or the hands.
Causes of Neck Pain:
Neck Pain can result due to a variety of reasons. Some of these are as follows:
- Muscle Strains: Overuse of the muscles caused due to prolonged hunching can trigger the straining of the muscles. Certain minor activities such as reading in bed and teeth gritting can also strain the muscles.
- Wearing of the joints: Like the other joints of the body, the muscle joints too tend to wear out with the passage of the time. These joints can undergo wear and tear, which results in the osteoarthritis around the neck.
- Compressed nerves: Herniated disks as well as bone spurs around the vertebrae of the neck can press out the nerves branching from the spinal cord. This causes the neck pain.
- Injuries: Read end collisions can cause whiplash injuries amongst patients. These injuries occur when the head is jerked backward and forward suddenly. This causes the soft tissues of the neck to stretch beyond their limits.
- Diseases: Neck Pain can also be caused due to certain diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, meningitis or even cancer.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Neck Pain
The symptoms for Neck Pain depend on the severity and the location of the pain. It is important to mention any neck or head movements which cause your pain to worsen or better.
Usually, a physical examination is the best way to diagnose the neck pain. The doctor checks the patient for the tenderness, numbness as well as signs of muscle weakness. They also ask the patient to move their head forward and backward time and again.
Certain imaging tests such as X rays and CT Scans are used to diagnose the condition perfectly.
X Rays can reveal the areas in the neck where the nerves or the spinal cord has been pinched due to a bulging disk.
CT Scans provide the doctors with a detailed image of the neck, as viewed from different angles in order to produce a cross sectional image of the neck area.
MRI Scans are done in order to create detailed images of the bones and the soft tissues including the spinal cord as well as the nerves arising from the spinal cord.
Lab Tests such as Blood Tests and Spinal Taps are conducted in order to determine the condition. Blood tests are able to provide signs of inflammation which could be causing Neck Pain. A spinal Tap allows a needle to be inserted into the spine in order to obtain a sample of the cerebro spinal fluid. This test is done in case the doctor suspects a case of Meningitis.
Treatment and Drugs for Neck Pain
In most cases, Neck Pain can be treated with the help of common home care measures. However, in case of severe cases, the following measures may be taken:
Medications: The doctor tends to prescribe pain medications and over the counter drugs in order to ease the pain. Often, muscle relaxants and antidepressants can be also used.
Therapies: Certain therapies such as neck exercises, stretching, traction and short term immobilization can also be recommended in order to ease the pain. These therapies, however, need to be done under the supervision of a practiced therapist only. These therapies work towards increasing the strength and the endurance of the neck muscles.
Steroid Injections: The doctor may inject corticosteroid medications along the nerve roots in order to soothe down the pain. These numbing injections such as Lidocaine are injected into the small facet joints of the bones along the cervical spine.
Surgery: Surgery is very rarely prescribed for the treatment of neck pain. It is however, an option in order to relieve nerve root and spinal cord compression.