The neck supports our heavy heads. Incorrect posture, overuse, and degenerative diseases can cause a lot of wear and tear to the vertebrae in the neck area. This can lead to acute neck pain and stiffness in the region. In sporadic cases, neck pain becomes a cause for concern. In most instances, it goes away on its own after six weeks or less with little or no treatment.
A dull ache is the most common symptom of neck pain. It worsens when the head is turned, or the neck is moved. Numbness, tingling, problems in swallowing, sharp shooting pain and tenderness are some other symptoms.
If ignored, neck pain and stiffness can get worse. Neck pain and back pain go hand-in-hand too.
Let us look at some of the common causes of neck pain.
- Muscular Strains
Hunching over the computers and the smartphones, reading in bed while reclining or gritting teeth could trigger neck pain as the muscles get strained. The overuse of the neck muscles with the wear and tear caused by daily activities can have painful consequences. Muscle strains can also be caused by sleeping at an awkward angle or suffering a jerk during exercising.
- Degenerative Causes
Over a period, the vertebrae in the neck undergo degeneration. The worn-down joints try to adapt to the new situation by forming bone spurs that can lead to a lot of pain and affect joint motion.
- Compressing of Nerves
The spinal cord has many nerves branching in and out of it. Due to the formation of bone spurs or because of herniated discs, these nerves can get compressed and lead to acute pain.
The neck is a sensitive part of the body. High impact sports, fall, and accidents can lead to unbearable pain in the neck region. Many accidents that happen at the rear end of the vehicle can lead to whiplash injuries which are caused when the head is jerked backward due to the impact and then forward. This strains the neck muscles and tissues leading to severe pain.
When the tissues surrounding the brain and the spinal cord become inflamed, it is known as meningitis. It is accompanied by a stiff neck, a fever, and a headache. It is fatal is immediate medical help is not provided.
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints. When the neck joints face high friction, it can lead to stiffness and pain in the neck. In osteoarthritis, the bone spurs are formed that could further compress the nerves of the spinal cord and lead to pain.
- Heart Attack
When accompanied by other symptoms of heart attack, neck pain can be a cause of worry. If you think you could be suffering from one, rush to the hospital immediately.
- Other Health Issues
Spondylosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis are other issues that can cause neck pain.
Consult the doctor if the neck pain persists after a week. Use hot and cold pads to alleviate the pain.