The neck is easily injured. Most injuries to the neck stem from strain of soft tissues. Old injuries which have not healed properly. Also old injuries which have resulted in osteoarthritic changes of neck structures. As well as muscle spasms, which in severe cases can result in torticollis.
If any of the following symptoms occur, they may indicate a more serious problem.
– Shooting pain into shoulders or arms.
– Numbness/loss of strength in arm and hands.
– Change in bladder and bowel habits.
– Inability to touch your chin to the chest.
Muscle strain – usually occurs as a result of bad posture, generally while sitting/slouching at the computer.
Worn joints – neck joints wear out due to being misaligned. As this progresses, it gives rise to further breakdown called osteoarthritis.
Nerve compression – or a nerve pinch, occurs when the opening through which a nerve passes is decreased. It can be decreased due to a herniated disc or bone spurs.
Injuries – like whiplash type accidents.
– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Meningitis – when an infectious disease causes the brain and spinal cord lining to swell.
– Cancer of the spine.
– X-rays – can reveal areas in your neck where your nerves or spinal cord may be pinched by bone spurs or a bulging disc.
– Computerized tomography (CT) scan – provides cross-sectional views of internal neck structures.
– Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed images of bones and soft tissues, including the spinal cord.
– rs at your computer.
– Adjust your chair, desk or computer so the monitor is at eye level.
– Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk.
– Stretch frequently
– Balance your base, by stretching your chest muscles as well as shoulders.
– Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It stresses the neck by putting it into an unnatural position.
– Electromyography (EMG). This test involves inserting fine needles into a muscle to see if certain nerves are functioning properly.
– Blood tests – can provide evidence of inflammatory or infectious conditions, which may be causing neck pain.
– Spinal tap – where a needle is inserted into the spinal canal to take a sample of cerebro-spinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It can show evidence of meningitis.
Exercises and stretching – may improve pain by restoring muscle function, optimizing posture and increasing the strength and endurance of neck muscles.
Traction- a way of gently stretching the neck. This type of therapy can provide relatively fast relief of certain types of neck pain especially when caused by nerve root irritation.
Short term immobilization – a soft collar that supports your neck may help relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in your neck. Only to be used for 2 weeks. The longer its used the more neck muscles may atrophy thus creating more harm then good.
Chiropractic – by restoring proper movement to the neck vertebrae, proper motion is introduced, thus decreasing chances of pain and inflammation.
Accupuncture – is useful in pain reduction via insertion of thin needles into the arm.
Massage- massaging neck muscles brings about increased blood flow which can reduce neck pain by
re-establishing proper internal chemistry.