Neck Pain Overview
Neck pain is a common orthopedic issue. The neck muscles can be strained from poor posture, pulled from physical activity, or other health conditions may affect it, such as osteoarthritis.
Neck pain is a common type of pain that nearly everyone experiences at some point in their life. A spine specialist should see neck pain that lasts more than a few days. Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates (CONA) spine specialists make accurate diagnoses and prescribe neck pain-reducing treatment plans.
Neck Pain Symptoms & Causes
Neck pain symptoms include:
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle tightness
- Pain that is worse when the head is held still for prolonged periods
Common neck pain causes are:
- Poor posture
- Weak neck muscles
Rarely, neck pain is a symptom of a more serious problem. However, there are some cases in which neck pain may point to a more serious issue; in this case, such as after a motor vehicle accident, it is vital to see your doctor.
Common Treatments for Neck Pain
The most common types of mild to moderate neck pain typically respond well to self-care and exercises within two or three weeks. However, some may need some intervention with your doctor.
Nonsurgical treatment options treat neck pain. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA spine specialist may recommend:
- Physical Therapy – A therapist can help teach you proper posture, alignment, and neck strengthening exercises. Heat, ice, stimulation, and others can help ease the pain and allow room for improvement.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – Electrodes are placed on the skin near the affected area and administers tiny electrical impulses to help relieve pain.
- Short-term Immobilization – A soft collar to help support the neck may relieve pain by taking pressure off the structures in the neck.
- Steroid Injections – Your doctor may inject corticosteroid medications into the neck in different locations to help relieve pain.
- Surgery – Rarely needed for neck pain; however, surgery might be an option for someone suffering neck pain due to nerve root or spinal cord compression.
Surgery is not recommended for general neck pain. In some cases, a corticosteroid injection may be offered instead for fast-acting pain relief.