If you have been suffering from neck pain, you are not alone. According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, as much as 40% of adults have neck pain every year and 70% of adults will have neck pain at some point in their lives. Here's what may be causing pain in your neck and how neck pain can be treated.
Trauma, particularly whiplash from a motor vehicle accident, can cause neck pain. In many cases, neck pain from trauma may not be felt until the morning after the trauma or, sometimes, several days later due to adrenaline masking the pain and the affects of the soft tissue injuries in the neck due to the trauma. Because of this, it is important to seek medical care immediately following a collision or other trauma instead of waiting until the pain starts. Immediate medical attention is important so that treatment can begin right away. Why? Because not doing so could lead chronic whiplash, which would mean you may feel neck pain as much as five years later.
Treatment for neck pain caused by trauma involves a comprehensive approach. At first, your neck may be immobilized with a cervical collar, and you may be given muscle relaxants, pain medication, and injections of lidocaine. After the initial phase of immobilization, which depends on the severity of your injuries, treatment may continue with any combination of chiropractic care, physical therapy, ice and heat therapy, massage, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
Neck pain can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, polymyalgia rheumatica, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, osteomyelitis, and tuberculosis of the neck. While these medical conditions can be troublesome, there's another serious—and sometimes deadly—medical condition that can cause neck pain: meningitis. Because of this, it is crucial for you to be evaluated by your primary care physician if you have unexplained neck pain, especially with accompanying neck stiffness, confusion, lethargy, headache, or fever.
Treatment for any medical condition causing your neck pain will be necessary, particularly if you have meningitis. It is crucial that the underlying medical condition is treated first before you seek additional treatment such as chiropractic care and physical therapy for the neck pain you have. It's important for your primary care physician to facilitate your treatment plan as a case manager, so you'll need to sign disclosure forms to allow all of your care providers to discuss your treatment plan with one another.
While some neck pain can be attributed to trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents, or medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, sometimes the cause of neck pain is poor posture. In recent years, poor posture of the neck has become more prevalent than ever before, thanks to cell phones and other mobile devices. Heads of adults weigh roughly 10-12 pounds when upright. However, tilting the head forward by 60 degrees, such as when texting on a cell phone, exerts a force of 60 pounds on the neck. Over time, this can negatively affect the natural curve of the cervical spine, which can lead to neck pain and accelerate degeneration of the cervical discs.
Treatment for neck pain that is caused by poor posture can also include chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, the most important part of treating neck pain due to poor posture is to improve your posture. Therefore, you'll need to concentrate on working to improve your posture and avoid bending your neck forward. A chiropractor can make cervical adjustments, and a physical therapist can help you strengthen your neck muscles to improve your posture.