Neck Pain:- Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Prevention, Exercise and General Home Care of Neck Pain
Neck pain is the sensation of discomfort in the neck area. Neck pain can result from disorders of any of the structures in the neck, including the cervical vertebrae and intervertebral discs, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, esophagus, larynx, trachea, lymphatic organs, thyroid gland, or parathyroid glands. Neck pain arises from numerous different conditions and is sometimes referred to as cervical pain.
Most people occasionally pain, stiffness, or a "kink" in the neck the discomfort is most often caused by tension, strain, or spasm in the neck muscles or irritation of the neck joints. Neck pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back, or upper arms, and it may also cause headaches. Pain may limit neck movement. This usually affects one side of the neck more than the other.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Pain or deep ache of the neck, shoulder or arm (this needs to be differentiated from true shoulder pain, such as tendonitis\bursitis). Their may be burning or tingling of the arm or hand or headaches. It may be continuous, or only occur when you are in a certain position. The pain may be aggravated by turning your head, looking up or looking down (as with reading).
Limited range of motion (less than normal movement) of the neck.
Stiffness of the neck and shoulder muscles.
Causes of neck pain :
Diagnosis of Neck Pain
If meningitis is suspected the doctor will perform a spinal tap as well as several blood test. If pinched nerve is likely, x-rays of the neck will be done. A muscle relaxant may be prescribed and perhaps a more powerful pain reliever. Usually you a just as well off with home therapy if no inspection or nerve damage is present. The physician may prescribe a neck collar, or, if there is nerve damage refer you to a neurologist or neurosurgeon for consultation. Today the trend is away from drug treatment of this problem.
Prevention of Neck Pain
Strengthen and protect your neck by doing neck exercises once a day. If stress may be the cause of your neck pain, practice the progressive muscle relaxation exercises
If your pain is worse at the end of the day, evaluate your posture and body mechanics during the day.
Sit straight in your chair with your low back supported. Avoid sitting long periods without getting up or changing positions. Take mini-breaks several times each hour to stretch your neck muscles.
If you work at a computer, adjust the monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye level. Use a document holder that puts the copy at the same level as the screen.
If you use the telephone a lot, consider using a headset or speakerphone.
If your neck stiffness is worse in the morning, you may need better neck support when you sleep.
Try rolling a towel and wrapping it around your neck. Pin it for good support.
You may need a firmer mattress or a special neck support pillow. Look for a pillow that supports your neck comfortably when you lie on your back and on your side (try before buying). Avoid pillows that force your head forward when you are on your back.
General Home Care of Neck Pain
Neck pain in the morning may be due to sleeping habits. Sleep on the firm surface and discontinue use of pillow.
A firm mattress is best. If this is not possible a bed board will make the present mattress firmer.
Warmth may be of benefit in relieving spasm and pain. Heat may be applied with hot showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad. Heat may be used as often as practical, but don't burn the skin
Neck pain, like back pain, is slow to improve and may take several weeks to resolve. If an ordinary bath towel is folded length wise to a long four-inch wide strip, wrapped around the neck at bedtime secured with tape or a safety pin, relief obtained overnight is often striking. If pain doesn't lessen in the week call the doctor.
An ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel is a good choice when stiffness is just settling in, Griffin says. If your neck has been slightly injured, ice can help hold down swelling.
After ice has reduced any inflammation, heat is a wonderful soother-be it from a heating pad or a hot shower.
Use a heat rub. These over-the-counter ointments are soothing but have no real healing effect because they don't really penetrate the skin's surface, says Steve Antonopulos, head athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos football team. Never use them with heating pads, he adds. At best they provide "psychological benefit."
Sit in a firm chair. And if you sit in a chair that doesn't give you good back support, you increase your chances of worsening existing neck problems and causing new ones.
Take a break. Just as the feet need rest from constant standing, the neck needs a rest from constant sitting. Your head weighs approximately 8 pounds, that's a lot of weight for the neck to support without much help from the rest of your body. So periodically stand up and walk around.
Keep your chin up. Keep your head level but pull your chin in as if you were making a double chin. Also avoid having your head lowered all the time when working at a desk or reading, she advises. This will prevent stressing the muscles in the back of the neck.
See eye to screen. If you work with a video display terminal all day, it's important to have it positioned at eye level. If you force yourself to look up or down hour after hour, you may cause your neck to spasm.
Reach out. And consider putting down the telephone. If you talk on the phone a lot, especially while trying to write, you've got your neck in an awkward position-an invitation to stiffness and pain.
Lift carefully. It's all too easy to forget there's a right way and a wrong way to lift heavy objects. The right way is to bend your knees and hold your spine erect while positioning the object between your feet, which should be shoulder-width apart. When you lift the object, keep it as close to your body as possible.
GENERAL NECK EXERCISES
You do not need to do every exercise. Stick with the ones that help you the most. Do each exercise slowly. Stop any exercise that increases pain. Start by doing the exercises twice a day.
Dorsal glide : Sit or stand tall, looking straight ahead (a "palace guard" posture). Slowly tuck your chin as you glide your head backwards over your body. Hold for a count of 5; then relax. Repeat 6 to 10 times. This stretches the back of the neck. If you feel pain, do not glide so far back. You may find this exercise easier to do while lying on your back with ice on your neck.
Chest and shoulder stretch: Sit or stand tall and glide your head backward as in the dorsal glide exercise. Raise both arms so that your hands are next to your ears. As you exhale, lower your elbows down and back. Feel your shoulder blades slide down and together. Hold for a few seconds. Relax and repeat 6 to 10 times.
Shoulder lifts: Lie face down with your arms beside your body. Lift your shoulders straight up from the floor as high as you can without pain. Keep your chin down and your eyes facing the floor. Keep your torso and hips pressed to the floor. Repeat 6 to 10 times.
Hands on head: Move your head backward, forward, and side-to-side against gentle pressure from your hands, holding each position for several seconds. Repeat 6 to 10 times.
When to Call a Health Professional
If a stiff neck occurs with headache and fever
If pain extends or shoots down one arm, or you have numbness or tingling m your hands
If you develop new weakness in your arms or legs
If a blow or injury to your neck (whiplash) is causing new pain
If you are unable to manage your pain with home treatment
If the pain has lasted 2 weeks or longer without improvement despite home treatment
If neck pain occurs after a severe
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