5 Most Common Causes of Neck Pain and What You Can Do About Them

how to treat neck pain, 5 Most Common Causes of Neck Pain and What You Can Do About Them

If you’re suffering from neck pain, you’re not alone. In fact, about one-quarter of American adults experience neck pain.

The good news is that neck pain is rarely due to a serious health problem. The bad news is that neck pain still interrupts your daily life. In addition to protecting your spinal cord, the neck houses nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons used to support your head, which weighs 11-15 pounds.

The doctors at Space City Pain Specialists understand the need to treat neck pain effectively so you can get back to your daily routine. And while medical help may be necessary in some cases, home treatment options are a good place to start and can offer effective relief.

Here are the five most common causes of neck pain and what you can do about them:

1. A pinched nerve

The neck is comprised of seven vertebrae in the cervical spine, located between the base of your skull and the top of your shoulders. Between these vertebrae are discs that absorb shock from activities like running, walking, and jumping.

When the discs bulge or move out of place, nerves nearby can become compressed, or “pinched.” Movement, like turning your head to back up your car, may make the pain worse.

What you can do:

Most cases of pinched cervical nerves get better on their own without medical intervention. But it can take days, even weeks, for the pain to resolve. Here are some things to try:

2. Muscle or tendon strain

Muscle or tendon strains in the neck often occur after simple, everyday activities rather than extreme physical exertion. Bending over your desk for too long, sleeping “funny,” or craning your neck to see around the person in front of you at Starbucks can cause problems. If the pain is severe, see the team at Space City Pain Specialists for an evaluation.

What you can do:

The best remedy for a strained neck muscle or tendon is rest. You can also take over-the-counter medications to help with the pain, and try sleeping in a position that removes pressure from the affected area. Take breaks throughout the day to stretch and roll out your neck and shoulders.

3. Poor posture

Good neck posture allows for a neutral position of the head, which minimizes neck strain by balancing your head’s weight evenly on the cervical spine. Poor neck posture occurs when the head is in front of your shoulders instead of above them, like when you’re hunched over your desk.

When your head rests too far forward, added support is required to hold its weight. This strains the muscles in the neck and upper back, causing pain. It also causes the spinal cord and nerves to stretch out of normal position.

What you can do:

Exercises to strengthen neck, chest, and upper back muscles can help improve posture. The team at Space City Pain Specialists can help you design a program.

In addition, improve your workspace ergonomics to help minimize poor neck posture, and commit to using good posture throughout the day.

4. Sudden, forceful movement of the head

Car accidents are known for causing whiplash, but you don’t need to be in a motor vehicle to injure your neck. Any sudden, forceful movement of the head can trigger neck pain. Common causes include sports injuries (especially in contact sports), collisions, and physical abuse or trauma.

Loss of range of motion, pain, stiffness, and tenderness are common symptoms. Whiplash can also cause headaches, ringing in the ears, and trouble sleeping.

What you can do:

If you think you have a whiplash, get a doctor’s evaluation to determine the severity. Some people can recover fully on their own, while others may need specialized care. At-home treatments include:

5. Underlying health issue

If you’re suffering from chronic neck pain that just won’t quit, you might have an underlying health condition. Problems like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or congenital spine disorders can all cause chronic neck pain.

What you can do:

Neck pain lasting for more than a week or worsening over time requires a visit with a doctor. The physicians at Space City Pain Specialists review your medical history and conduct a comprehensive examination. Further testing may be needed depending on symptoms.

Treatment depends on the nature of your diagnosis and the severity of your pain. Recommended therapies might include:

If you’re in the Greater Houston area and suffering from neck pain, contact Space City Pain Specialists by calling one of our four convenient locations or using the online booking tool.

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