Pain in the Neck? Discover the Cause and How to Treat It

If you’ve ever experienced neck pain, you’ll know how limiting it can be – and it’s even more frustrating when you don’t know where it’s come from.

Understanding what’s causing your neck pain is crucial for getting the right treatment.

Leaving it undiagnosed or without proper management could lead to chronic problems, so keep reading to discover more about the causes of neck pain and ways you can overcome it.

Symptoms of neck pain

Typical symptoms include muscle aches, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Pain levels vary and you might experience discomfort or have severe, sharp pain.

  • Muscle spasm – A spasm happens when you have a powerful, involuntary contraction of your muscles. Your muscles might feel stiff, sore, and knotted. You might not be able to move your neck.
  • Nerve pain – Nerve pain can start in the neck and move down your arms and legs. Pins and needles, numbness, burning, or weakness could be associated with nerve pain.
  • Reduced range of motion – Whether it’s moving your head backwards and forwards or to the left and right, you have limited range of motion in your neck.
  • Muscle ache – Sore muscles in your neck is a common symptom, and you could have knots or hotspots sore to the touch.
  • Stiffness – You might have tightness or knottiness in your neck muscles, making it hard to move turn your head or move your neck.
  • Headaches – Headaches are common with neck pain, and it’s more common to have dull rather than sharp pain.

Common causes of neck pain

The list of possible causes of neck pain is extensive. Common causes are sports injuries and complex age-related conditions such as osteoarthritis. Often neck pain is a result of strain but sometimes it’s more serious and requires treatment from a medical professional.

  • Poor posture and muscle strain – Poor posture and muscle strain can cause neck pain. Minor issues can lead to strain in the neck muscles. For example, sitting too long hunched over your computer, reading in bed, or grinding your teeth can cause neck pain. Sleeping with your neck in a poor position can also lead to a sore neck.
  • Injury and trauma – Whiplash is a common neck injury associated with car accidents. When forced to move backward and/or forward quickly, the neck and its muscles can be fatigued.
  • Headaches and migraines – Tension headaches and migraines can sometimes lead to neck pain.
  • Herniated discs – Injury and weakness can lead to herniated discs. This happens when the outside layer of your cervical discs tears and leads to the soft centre bulging outwards, with resulting nerve compression and neck pain.
  • Age-related conditions – osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis are some age-related conditions impacting the spine and the neck. Your doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for these.
  • Various other conditions – There are various other conditions that could cause neck pain, so if you are in doubt as to the significance of the issue, always consult your doctor.  

Neck pain is a complex issue due to the variety of conditions that could be causing it. There are various other conditions not listed here that could be contributing – if in doubt as to the significance of the issue, see your doctor.

Diagnosis

Obtaining a diagnosis from your doctor is vital for an effective treatment plan. Diagnosing neck pain will usually include a physical examination. Your doctor or physio will check your posture, range of motion, and spine alignment. They might order X-rays and scans like an MRIs to check for things like fractures, osteoarthritis, and bulging discs.

In serious cases, your doctor might also order a nerve conduction study or electromyography, which are carried out to test for nerve damage. If you have severe neck pain or have a neck injury, always consult your doctor right away. You should also see your doctor immediately if you have accompanying symptoms like fever, coordination issues, and weight loss.

Treatments

Treatment options for minor neck pain include self-care, which might be several days of rest, cold/hot therapy, and temporary pain relief from an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as Herron Blue Ibuprofen. Depending on the severity and cause, you might need to see your doctor and physiotherapist for treatment.

Self-care and lifestyle

Applying heat and/or ice packs to the area can alleviate neck pain symptoms. Making lifestyle changes such as improving your posture and using ergonomic furniture can be beneficial.

Exercise and stretching

Your physiotherapist can work with you to develop stretching and exercise programs to help you recover more quickly. Stretching could help with improving your range of motion while easing the stiffness. Appropriate stretching exercises designed by your physio could make your neck stronger and prevent future injury or strain.

Complementary treatments

Complementary treatment options in this area include massage, yoga, and Pilates. You can also see a chiropractor to align your spine if that’s an underlying cause of your neck pain.

Surgery

In severe cases where the cause is your nerves or spinal cord, your doctor might recommend surgery as an appropriate treatment option. Surgery can be carried out to remove tissue pressing against nerves, or it might be carried out to reduce motion between your vertebrae causing the pain.

Get help today

Neck pain can result from a wide range of underlying issues. Whether it’s from an injury or poor posture, you’ll want to explore self-care options for treatment, and always get professional advice if you have any doubts.

Disclaimer: The Herron blog is interested in general community wellbeing and information, and does not imply that Herron products should be used for serious ailments without the advice or recommendation from your healthcare practitioner.

All information presented on the Herron website is meant for general knowledge and never meant as a diagnosis of prescription. Please always contact your doctor for health related matters.