Neck pain and stiffness can give you a harrowing time. From children to aged people, the condition is a common problem that can affect all and sundry. In addition to the pain and discomfort, the condition also restricts the head movement. The neck bones and muscles are important as they not only give support to the head but also ensures its free and unrestricted movement.
Stiff neck and neck pain can be an amalgamation of various factors such as -
Our professional commitments often demand spending hours before the computer. The sedentary lifestyle is the main wrecker in chief, giving rise to many health complications, with neck pain and stiffness being one amongst them. Sitting in one position for long often results in muscle pull (tension) and strain. The muscle tension can also be an outcome of incorrect sleeping posture.
- Neck injury and inflammation sustained during an exercise or due to an accident can also result in neck pain.
- Neck injury followed by pain and stiffness can also be an outcome of Whiplash (a condition where a person suddenly jerks the head).
- Stiffness and neck pain can also be triggered by medical conditions such as Meningitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (of the neck), Heart attack, Fibromyalgia(muscular pain particularly in the shoulder and neck area), Cancer (of the spine), Spondylosis, and Spinal stenosis, to name a few.
Seek medical assistance in case
- The condition aggravates and persists for long.
- The pain and stiffness are sudden and unexplained.
- Pain that slowly moves down the arms and legs.
- In addition to the neck pain and stiffness, a person complains of a headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, difficulty in eating food, a bowel disorder.
- A lump (in the neck) accompanied by pain and stiffness needs immediate and thorough investigation.
Diagnosis and treatment
Neck pain and stiffness are often diagnosed by
- Physical examination.
- A lumbar puncture can also aid in the diagnosis.
- Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, CT scans, Electromyography
- Blood tests.
Depending on the severity, a doctor decides upon the course and mode of treatment
- The use of ice packs or heat pads (avoid very high temperature) on the affected area every 2-3 hours (for 15-20 minutes) can provide great relief.
- Gentle massaging can go a long way to relieve the pain and stiffness. It only helps to improve the blood circulation.
- Neck exercises and stretching play a pivotal role in strengthening the neck muscles, thereby reducing the pain and stiffness. However, in an endeavour to achieve maximum results, do not overdo yourself.
- Medicines such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), Tylenol, Advil, corticosteroid injections, come in handy in case of severe pain and inflammation.
- Use of a neck collar provides support to the affected area.
- Surgery may be recommended (very rare) in the case of serious complications.
- Some patients also benefit from Acupuncture and Chiropractic (alternate medicines).
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert
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