Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain is a pain in or around the spine beneath your head. It is a common symptom of many different injuries and medical conditions. Neck pain occurs in about one out of three people at least once a year. It is more common in women than in men. Aging increases the risk of developing this condition. Neck pain varies from person to person and the pain location.
It can be axial neck pain or the pain that is felt in the neck or radicular neck pain or pain that shoots into other areas such as the shoulders or arms. Neck pain can be acute and may last for several weeks and may also become chronic if it lasts for more than three months. It can interfere with daily activities and reduce your quality of life if left untreated.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
- Pain that is worsened by holding your head in one place for long
- Pain that occurs when driving or working
- Muscle tightness and spasms
- Decreased ability to move your head
- Headache and dizziness
Most neck pain worsens gradually, especially if left untreated. Seek immediate help if the pain is persistent or when it:
- Spread down the arms and leg
- Causes numbness and headache
- Is accompanied by tingling and weakness
What are the Causes of Neck Pain?
- Muscle strains. Spending longer periods using your computer or phone often triggers muscle strains. A strain on your neck muscles can be caused by even minor activities, like reading in bed or gritting your teeth.
- Worn joints. Just like the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Degenerative osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between your bones to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. You may experience nerve pain when herniated disks or bone spurs in your neck press on your spinal cord’s nerve roots.
- Injuries. The soft tissues of the neck are stretched during a rear-end collision when the head is jerked backward and then forwards.
- Diseases. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer, can cause neck pain.
Home Remedies for Neck Pain
Home treatments for neck pain focus on alleviating the symptoms and reversing the causes of neck pain. Treatment tips for neck pain include:
- Apply ice for the first few days. After that, apply heat with a heating pad, hot compress, or by taking a hot shower.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Change your position often. Don’t stand or sit in one position for too long. You can also get a gentle neck massage.
- Exercise your neck every day. Slowly stretch your head in side-to-side and up-and-down motions and practice good posture.
Medications and Treatment for Neck pain
After the diagnosis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy and surgery. Your doctor might inject corticosteroid medications near the nerve roots, into the small facet joints in the bones of the cervical spine, or into the muscles in your neck to help with the pain. For chronic pain you can take: