What causes neck pain?
Your neck contains bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves. Any of these components can hurt. Pain in the jaw, head or shoulders may also spread to the neck and cause pain. Conversely, problems in your neck can also make other parts of your body hurt, such as your head, upper back, shoulders or arms.
The commonest cause of neck pain is still muscle and ligament strain, especially from poor posture, or from an injury. Wear and tear from old age or arthritis can also cause neck pain.
What are the symptoms of neck pain?
The pain may be aching and constant in nature. It can also be described as cramping, stabbing or intermittent. The description of your pain is important because it can help your doctor find the cause.
If your nerves are involved in your neck pain, you may experience numbness, tingling, loss of sensation or weakness in your arms or legs.
What should I do if I have symptoms of neck pain?
Muscle strain or sprain is usually easy to self-diagnose. They typically occur after strenuous activity, overuse or incorrect posture that put excessive strain on your neck muscles. Pain usually improves within a few days to a couple of weeks. If the pain does not let up within a week or two, you should see a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will conduct an interview and physical examination. He may ask you specific questions regarding your pain, including onset, nature and triggering factors.
If you have the following signs and symptoms with neck pain, see your pain Physiciac/doctor immediately:
- Severe pain from an injury, e.g. car accident, fall etc. Severe pain over a bone may indicate a fracture.
- Shooting pain radiating to your shoulders or arms, or numbness and tingling in your fingers. Such pain may result from nerve irritation.
- Weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty walking, urinary retention or incontinence or change in bowel function may indicate injury to the spinal cord.
What is the treatment for neck pain?
Most neck pain secondary to muscle strain respond well to common pain medications such as paracetamol, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Your Pain Physician may also recommend:
- Physical therapy. Heat, ice or similar treatments combined with muscle stretching and strengthening exercises enhance the structures that support your neck.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Electrodes placed on your skin near the painful area in the neck deliver tiny electrical impulses that may relieve pain.
- Epidural steroid injection. If there is evidence of nerve root irritation causing pain, your doctor may perform an epidural injection to administer steroids into the space around the nerve roots to reduce inflammation.
You may also be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for a surgical assessment if necessary.
In our Pain management Center we try to find the root cause of pain and appropriate treatment is given by our pain physician/doctor.