Acute neck pain is common and is usually nothing to worry about. Muscle tension is often the trigger, for example after prolonged work on the computer, or when you have lain down uncomfortably while sleeping. Acute neck pain usually resolves in 1 to 2 weeks. In some people, it returns after stressful stimuli, such as after work or intense exercise.
If the symptoms last more than three months, it is called chronic neck pain. Psychological tension and stress are often involved when neck pain becomes chronic.
Some people with neck pain worry that if they are physically active, their discomfort will increase or they may injure themselves. As long as there are no warning signs of serious problems, there is nothing to worry about. It is even important to keep moving despite the pain and continue with your daily life as usual. In addition, targeted neck training can prevent neck pain.
Common symptoms of neck pain
There are essentially two types of neck pain:
Axial pain occurs mainly in the area of the cervical spine; sometimes it even reaches to the shoulders.
Radicular pain radiates along nerve pathways, for example to the back of the head or down one arm. This pain is usually triggered by irritated nerves, for example, because a spinal disc in the cervical spine is pressing on a nerve. This can also affect reflexes and muscle strength in the arm or cause tingling.
Very rarely, neck pain indicates a serious illness or an emergency. However, prompt medical help is important in the following situations and signs:
Severe headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or photosensitivity
Constant pain at rest that intensifies with movement
High fever that does not yield with antipyretics
Nerve disorders and signs of paralysis such as pins and needles or problems moving the arm or fingers.
Constant tingling, hands or legs that frequently fall asleep, leg weakness, and balance problems when walking are also complaints that may accompany neck pain and should be examined by a doctor.
Causes of neck pain
Neck pain can have many causes. This includes:
Neck muscle weakness and overwork
For example, sitting at a desk for a long time, often in an uncomfortable position and with slightly tense muscles constantly, can lead to pain and stiffness in the neck or shoulder area, and sometimes headaches. Work that involves stretching your head, or certain sports, such as cycling or swimming, can also trigger muscle problems.
Cervical spine wear
Throughout life, the spine shows several normal signs of wear and tear: the intervertebral discs become thinner and small spikes can form at the edges of the vertebral bodies. This is called osteochondrosis. Arthrosis of the vertebral joints is called spondylarthritis. All of these changes can reduce the mobility of the cervical spine, but they rarely cause neck pain on their own.
Acute cervical injury (whiplash)
This injury can occur in car collisions. A violent impact throws the head back and forth rapidly. The consequences are usually small injuries to the muscle and connective tissue, painful tension, and limitation of mobility for a few days. In most cases, the symptoms soon disappear completely.
How long does neck pain last after whiplash?
The duration depends, among other things, on the force of the impact. People who are mentally stressed by the accident or who are very worried about the consequences tend to have more prolonged and severe symptoms.
When the spinal canal narrows or bulges or bulges disc tissue presses on a nerve root, you may experience neck pain that radiates into your shoulder or arm. A herniated disc can, but does not necessarily, cause these symptoms.
Neck pain can also occur as a secondary effect of inflammatory diseases of the spine, jaw joint problems, or severe headaches.
It is often not possible to identify a clear cause of neck pain: The bones, ligaments, and nerves of the cervical spine are so close together that it is often difficult to assess what ultimately triggers the symptoms.
If no specific reason can be found, it is called "non-specific neck pain". The cause of chronic neck pain is often unclear.
If you have low levels of magnesium, this can cause tension in the muscles. An adult should consume 300-400 milligrams of magnesium daily. This amount of magnesium can be obtained from 100g of hazelnuts, 200g of dark chocolate, or a mixture throughout the day of nuts, lentils, chickpeas. However, sometimes the requirements increase depending on your daily activities and your physical condition, so you must ensure that you eat adequate amounts of foods rich in magnesium daily. But be careful, too much magnesium is also harmful to your body.
Frequency and progression of neck pain
Neck pain is very common, according to estimates, about one in three people suffer from it once a year, more women than men. Most of the time, the symptoms are harmless and go away on their own after a while. But they can also occur over and over constantly throughout the year.
In general, the risk of neck pain becoming a long-term problem increases with age. Neck pain is often more persistent in people who have already had back pain, a back or neck injury, or a herniated disc.
How to prevent neck pain in everyday life?
In the long term, stress is not only unfavorable for the muscles, it is also unfavorable for the recovery of inflammatory processes. On the other hand, strategies help to avoid stressful situations. Some techniques can be used to reduce stress quickly and effectively such as meditation. It is necessary to consider those psychological problems can also trigger muscle tension.
Improve your physical condition
Strong, athletic bodies can withstand more exertion. Endurance sports with an even load (jogging, walking) in particular strengthen muscles, increase fitness, increase endurance and facilitate stress reduction.
Work in an ergonomic environment
Workplaces need to be set up ergonomically, i.e., in a way that is easy on the spine. Regular light exercises to relax (raising and dropping your shoulders, rounding your back and straightening it again, rotating your shoulders) and work breaks can prevent muscle tension.
Improve your posture
Permanent poor posture must be specifically compensated. This often requires physiotherapy guidance, in this way weak points along the spine can be specifically strengthened.
Check your vision
Visual defects can lead to poor posture and should be corrected. It is possible that if your eyesight is not good, you take unhealthy postures to achieve a better vision, especially if your work is from a desk, in the long term it not only affects your neck, it also delays the treatment of your vision.
Take care of your resting place
Some inadequate mattresses or pillows can be the cause of neck pain. In this case, you can experiment with thicker and flatter cushions, cushions, and cushions. Usually changing the pillow improves, however, if the cause is the mattress, the pain will probably also extend throughout your back, therefore, it would be best to change it for a more suitable option for your rest.
Diagnosis of neck pain
At the doctor's office, a few questions are first asked, such as whether you've had an accident before, where exactly it hurts, and whether particular physical strain or severe stress might play a role.
The physical exam that follows tries to rule out serious causes. To do this, the doctor palpates the neck and nape, examines the mobility of the head, reflexes, and muscle strength in the arms and shoulders.
An X-ray exam and other imaging studies are only necessary when there are signs of disease or a specific cause is suspected. If there are no such indications, X-rays are usually of no help because no reliable conclusions can be drawn from the images: On the one hand, many people have visible signs of wear on the cervical spine but do not complain. On the other hand, in people with neck pain, there are often no or only slight changes. Therefore, in the case of nonspecific neck pain, radiographs and other imaging tests are not significant.
Neck Restoration: What are the treatments available for neck pain?
The application of heat, such as hot water bottles or pillows, is an easy way to try to relieve pain. Other options include stretching and strengthening exercises, massage, or pain relievers.
Surgery is only an option if a clear cause has been identified that can be corrected by surgery. For example, surgery may be an option if disc tissue is pressing on a nerve. However, herniated discs usually regress on their own, so an operation is usually of little benefit. In addition, interventions in the cervical spine area also have risks. Therefore, it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of surgery.
In the case of severe chronic pain, pain management can be helpful. It is offered by psychotherapists and physical therapists who specialize in caring for people with prolonged or severe pain. Pain management therapy can help treat the symptoms of such