Neck pain is a common complaint that affects everyone at some point. In fact, approximately 80% of people experience neck pain during their lifetime. In most cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. However, sometimes neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common causes of neck pain and how to treat them.
Muscle tension and strain
Muscle tension and strain is a common complaint that occurs from overuse and postural problems. Neck tension refers to neck pain that develops when the neck muscles cannot relax, resulting in soreness, muscle spasms and headaches. Activities and behaviors that cause muscle tension and strain include:
- Poor posture
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- Overexertion during exercise
- Excessive sitting or slouching
The neck is vulnerable to injury, especially during falls, car accidents, and sports as the neck muscles and ligaments are often forced to move outside of their normal range. If you are hit from behind in a car, your head is thrown forward and backward quickly, commonly known as whiplash, damaging the muscles, ligaments and sometimes nerves in the neck.
A single excessive strain or injury may cause a herniated disc. A herniated disc is a fragment of the disc nucleus pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal through a tear or rupture in the annulus. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine but are more common in the lower back (lumbar spine) and in the neck (cervical spine).
Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. In individuals who have meningitis, a fever and headache may occur with a stiff neck. Most cases are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections can also occur. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment. However, other cases can be life-threatening and require emergency antibiotics.
Osteoarthritis(OA) is the most common form of arthritis that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint, including the neck joints. This can lead to stiffness and limit your neck mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common form of arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the joints along the upper part of the neck, resulting in severe neck pain and stiffness.
Treatment for neck pain and stiffness
There is a spectrum of treatment options for neck pain. Your doctor may recommend trying conservative care first, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections (if needed).
If a 3-6 month trial of conservative treatments has not provided relief, schedule an appointment with one of the Center for Interventional Pain & Spine’s specialized providers! We offer advanced interventional and minimally invasive techniques to help treat chronic complex pain. Schedule your appointment today!
Center for Interventional Pain & Spine physicians who specialize in treating neck pain:
“Dr. Venk is the most educated, compassionate, and skilled physician I have met. He is professional yet has a great bedside manner, and he is easy to speak to. He listens to all my concerns and has helped me significantly with multiple epidurals and pain management. Dr. Venk also worked closely with my surgeon after my spinal surgery.” – A.D.
“I was in a car accident, so I was in need of a pain management doctor. My friend referred me to CIPS. Dr. Abdallah is very compassionate and caring. I am eager to see how he can help me fully recover.” – W.M