Your neck is made of vertebrae that extend right from your skull to your upper torso. The cervical disks always absorb shock between bones.
These bones, muscles and ligaments of the neck support the head thus allowing motion. Any inflammation, injuries or abnormalities can cause neck stiffness or pain.
A lot of people do experience neck stiffness or pain occasionally. In most cases, it’s due to normal wear and tear, poor posture or overuse. At times, the neck pain is caused by an injury that comes from a fall, whiplash, or contact sports.
Most of the time, the neck pain is not a very serious condition and it can be relieved within few days. In a few cases, the neck pain can be a sign of serious illness or injury and require a general practitioner’s care.
If the pain persists over a week, it is severe, or it is accompanied by some other symptoms, ensure to seek medical attention at once.
The neck stiffness or pain can happen for various reasons as below:
1. Muscle Tension and Strain
This is usually because of behaviors and activities such as:
- Bad posture
- working at one desk for so long without change in position
- sleeping with the neck in a poor position
- jerking your neck during work out
The neck is very vulnerable to injury, particularly in sports, falls, and car accidents, where the ligaments and muscles of the neck are actually forced to move out of their correct range.
If the neck is fractured or dislocated, your spinal cord may be damaged as well. Neck injury from a sudden jerking of your head is known as “whiplash.”
3. Diseases and Conditions
- Arthritis brings about pain, bone spurs, swelling of joints, and bone spurs. When it happens in the neck region, neck pain results.
- Osteoporosis always weakens bones and may result in fractures.
- Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes muscle pain all over the body.
As you age, cervical disks can collapse, hence narrowing spaces between vertebrae, therefore adding stress to joints.
When a disk sticks out, it may add a lot of pressure to the nerve roots or spinal cord. This is known as a herniated cervical disk, which is also known as a slipped disk r ruptured disk.
Spinal stenosis happens when spinal column narrows causing pressure on spinal cord. This can be because of long-term inflammation that’s caused by arthritis.
- Meningitis is the inflammation of thin tissues surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. Stiff neck is normally accompanied by severe headache and fever. Meningitis can really be deadly and it is a medical emergency. anytime you notice symptoms of meningitis, you should seek help at once.
4. Congenital abnormalities
In rare cases, neck pain or stiffness is brought about by congenital abnormalities, as well as tumors, infections, cancer of the spine or abscesses, cancer of the spine.
How to Ease Neck Pain at Home
If you have just minor neck stiffness or pain, take these steps to relieve it:
- Apply ice for some days at the point of the neck hurting.
- Take prescribed pain relievers for instance acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Take some days off from activities which aggravate such symptoms. Resume the activity as the symptoms ease.
- Exercise the neck every day.
- Use proper posture.
- Avoid putting the phone between your shoulder and neck.
- Get gentle massage.
- Use a special pillow for sleeping.
- Don’t use a neck collar or brace without checking with the doctor’s authorization.
If you have been in an accident and the neck hurts, always seek medical care right away.
How the Neck Pain Is Treated
You medical doctor will conduct physical test and take your medical history. Be ready to provide details about your symptoms, and recent accidents or injuries, even if they do not seem related.
Depending on the outcome of the medical tests, the doctor might refer you to a professional. The treatment for the neck pain may include:
- ice therapy
- neck collar
- physical therapy and stretching
- pain medication
- muscle relaxants
- hospital treatment, if heart attack or meningitis is the cause
- corticosteroid injections
- antibiotics (if infection is involved)
Alternative therapies may include massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, as well as (TENS) or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Ensure that you’re dealing with a certified professional when using such methods.