Neck pain is caused by injury or muscle tension. Tight muscles in the neck can cause pressure on nerves that control your head and arm movement—causing pain in the neck and shoulder muscles. It can also be caused by incorrect alignment of the spine or poor posture from prolonged sitting or poor sleeping habits. The nerves in the neck are compressed or pinched by hard structures such as vertebrae or muscles. This compression can lead to inflammation and pain in the neck. Other factors such as muscle strain, arthritis, and trauma can also cause neck pain.

Common symptoms

Neck pain is often described as a dull ache or pressure that extends from the base of the skull down into the neck, jaw, or shoulder. It feels like a sharp pain that shoots down into one’s arm when bending over.

  • Neck stiffness
  • Neck soreness
  • Pain with movement
  • Pain with turning your head
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Pain at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness in the neck when touched

Common treatment options

  • Physical therapy: Use of exercises, as well as therapeutic techniques, to treat the pain.
  • Massage therapy: Helps relieve tension, muscle spasms and pain by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to the neck and surrounding areas.
  • Acupuncture: Treats neck pain by releasing the pressure from the problem area, which can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Chiropractic care: Adjusting the spine and other joints around the neck region to help alleviate neck pain.
  • Medical care: Treats the underlying causes for neck pain, such as muscle spasms and inflammation.

Frequently asked questions

How is neck pain diagnosed?

A doctor will typically perform a physical examination to determine the cause of your pain. They may also order imaging studies such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or Ultrasound scan to assess the extent of your injury and diagnose any associated injuries.

Is my neck pain serious?

Neck pain can be hard to diagnose. Self-check to find out. Fever? Breathing hard? If you answer yes to either question, seek medical attention immediately. Rest and PT can also help.

How long should I wait before I consult my doctor?

There is no set rule when it comes to how long you should wait. It all depends on the severity of your symptoms and how quickly it subsides. However, doctors highly recommend seeking medical help if neck pain persists for more than two weeks.

Does neck pain come back once it’s treated?

Neck pain can get worse is left untreated for far too long. It is crucial to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid any long-term complications or permanent damage.

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