Why does neck pain happen?
Neck pain is a common problem that affects about 10 percent of adults. It’s caused by an irritation to discs, tendons, muscles, and ligaments in the upper back and neck area. Some of the causes of neck pain include:
- Abrupt movements of the neck, such as whiplash
- Differences in the bone or joints
- Trauma from accidents or falls
- Poor posture
- Diseases that cause damage over time
- Muscle strain, such as carrying a heavy backpack
- Worry and stress
What are the common symptoms of neck pain?
The symptoms of neck pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that may spread to your upper back, shoulders, and arms. Neck pain may be noticeable immediately after an injury or it may be delayed.
Some of the physical symptoms of neck pain include:
- Neck stiffness
- Burning or stinging pain
In addition, some people experience psychological and cognitive symptoms, including:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep problems
How is neck pain diagnosed?
There are a variety of ways to diagnose neck pain. Here are some of the most common:
- Medical history—can help your physician identify possible causes of your neck pain and suggest an appropriate treatment.
- Physical exam—can help pinpoint the source of pain.
- Diagnostic imaging—can help determine whether there is a fracture or other problem with the bones in your neck.
- Injections—can relieve neck pain and give your physician important information about the cause of your problem.
How is neck pain treated?
In general, neck pain does not require surgery. There are many nonsurgical treatment options available to ease muscle tension and relieve pain.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Medication (pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen], antidepressants, and muscle relaxants)
- Neck brace (called a cervical collar) Injections
- Physical therapy
- Self-care, including massage, gentle movement, and heat or ice
Pain from neck strain typically improves within a few days or weeks. Ninety-five percent of patients recover within three months after a neck injury, although some may continue to have residual neck pain and headaches.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you:
- Read this article about how muscle injury can lead to neck and back pain
- Visit our Spine Exercise Library for options to help ease neck and back pain
- See Summit’s treatment options for neck, back, and spine care
- Check out additional information on Summit’s approach to spine care
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