Neck pain is a common condition that is more frequently seen in women than men. Most people will experience neck pain at some point in time of their life.
Pain in the neck can be due to issues such as an injury, a mechanical or muscular issue, an impinged nerve caused by a intervertebral disc bulge or from arthritis of the spine.
The neck is made up of structures such as cervical ligaments which provide stability and muscles which allow for support and motion. The neck joint has a significant range of motion and supports the head. Unlike the rest of the spine, it is less protected and is vulnerable to injury, and therefore it is important to determine where your pain originates by a specialist such as a neck pain doctor.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Neck pain may present a range from mild discomfort to severe debilitating pain. It may also present as stiffness and you may find it difficult to move your neck. This could be due to muscle spasm or even cervical spondylosis where you lose range of movement due to degeneration of the bones and discs. Degenerated bones may also lead to noisy joints which may sound like clicking or grating (crepitus) as you move your head. Cracking of the neck is the sound of gas released from the facet joints when you “crack the neck”, much like cracking your knuckles. Dizziness and blackouts are much rarer symptoms when your vertebral artery is pinched by a degenerated spine. Lastly, depression may ensue when you have chronic neck pain especially so if your sleep is disturbed which will lead to excessive tiredness and low mood.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Neck Pain
Determining where the pain originates is the key to the treatment of neck pain. A specialist such as a neck pain doctor will take your complete history and examine you thoroughly. Some other important pieces of information will include any other medical conditions or injuries/illnesses that you may have had before or if you have already received any treatment or procedures to your spine.
Radiological investigations may also be done to allow a better look at the structures in your neck.
Treatment is then tailored specifically to what is the source of your pain. A range of treatment modalities include rest, medication, immobilization, physiotherapy, exercise, activity modifications and non-surgical methods which include minimally invasive pain procedures.
When should you seek medical care?
You should consider seeing a neck pain doctor when the pain is persistent and affecting your lifestyle, severe, when it is radiating down your arms or legs, when it is accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling or weakness or if it is associated with a recent traumatic episode.