Neck Pain

What causes neck pain?

Commonly, neck pain is due to -

  • Strained muscles: Holding the head in one position for too long, or in an awkward position, can cause weak muscles to become strained and painful.

  • Damaged joints: The small joints in the neck get worn out with age. The cartilage that makes them move smoothly breaks down, and small bony spurs develop, called osteophytes. These can cause pain.

  • Discs: The discs between the vertebrae can herniated, which means that the soft inner material escapes the tough other ring and presses down on the nerves where they are leaving the spinal cord. This causes pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms.

  • Injury: A sudden impact or a jerk to the neck causes the muscles to spasm, which is painful and makes movement difficult.

  • Diseases: Rarely, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer or meningitis can cause neck pain. 

  • Stress: Hunched shoulders, clenched jaw and grinding teeth - these signs of stress can cause your neck to hurt.

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How should I sleep when I have neck pain?

Sleeping on your back or side is best when you have neck pain. Use a pillow that supports the curve of your neck and allows your head to remain in line with your body.

When is neck pain dangerous?

  • If you experience severe symptoms, or symptoms that worsen over time and do not go away with time, seek immediate medical attention. If you have

    • Loss of sensation in your arms.

    • Shooting pains into your arms and hands.

    • Difficulty swallowing or speaking. 

    • Pain accompanied by fever.

    See a doctor immediately.

 

What to avoid when I have neck pain?

  • Activities that force you to maintain a position for a long time, like typing or reading. Take frequent breaks.

  • Sleeping on your stomach.

  • Sports that involve rapid movements and changes in direction. 

  • Sitting unsupported or in awkward positions.

How does physiotherapy help neck pain?

  • Reduce stiffness and improve range of motion with stretching.

  • Improve strength to reduce load on joints and help maintain posture.

  • Exercise produces endorphins, which are like the body’s natural painkillers. 

Should I wear a collar?

Not unless told to by your doctor or physiotherapist. If you require it after surgery or if you have instability, it will be prescribed to you. 

Unnecessarily wearing the brace will weaken your muscles, worsening the pain and disability over time.