The majority of us would experience neck pain at some point in our life. Neck Pain can disrupt daily routine activities. Muscle spasm, pain can make it difficult to turn head and activities such as driving become difficult. It is not uncommon for the neck pain to radiate to shoulders or lead to persistent headaches. Neck pain is more commonly observed in middle ages and may have a mechanical or postural basis. Most uncomplicated neck pain is associated with poor posture, anxiety, and depression, neck strain, injuries. Fortunately, the majority of cases are not due to serious causes. If you are experiencing unresolved or severe pain, you should seek a medical opinion from neck and shoulder pain treatment specialists in Delhi so that timely diagnosis can be done and corrective action can be taken.
Some common causes include –
- Muscle sprain, spasm/ increased tension
- Poor posture and work ergonomics
- Incorrect positioning of the neck while sleeping
- Aging: Degenerative disc disease and spinal osteoarthritis become more common as we age
- Injuries/ Whiplash: Whiplash neck involves sudden jolting of neck forwards and backwards and is commonly observed in vehicular accidents. This can cause excessive stretching of neck muscles, ligaments or other injuries which can be associated with neck pain.
Neck pain can be a part of more widespread medical issues such as in fibromyalgia, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, infections, cancer, etc. You can approach Pain Management Specialists in Delhi for diagnosing your problem and suggesting suitable solutions
It is advisable to seek early medical attention if you experience any of the following
- Persisting symptoms or severe pain not responding to usual care or medications
- Pain starting after fall, injury
- New-onset numbness, weakness or tingling in arms
- Gait or balance problems
- Loss of urine or stool control
- Signs of infection/ meningitis
- Pain worse at night time/interfering with your sleep
Some of the pain management techniques for neck pain include:
Lifestyle changes: Incorrect/ ignored posture while working on laptops mobiles etc can put excessive cervical spine strain leading to pain. Certain professions can be more prone to develop neck pain. Simple posture awareness and improvement, taking regular breaks can go a long way in reducing symptoms.
Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen and pain relievers like acetaminophen may initially be prescribed by your doctor. Sometimes medications like muscle relaxants or stronger painkillers may also be suggested by your doctor.
Physical Therapy: Regular exercise, good posture, stretching can help to reduce/ prevent to prevent unwanted stress and tension to your neck muscles. Heat or cold application may be used during the initial phases of injury to facilitate your recovery and physical exercise. Depending on the severity, time since injury and your recovery the specialist may recommend limiting normal physical activity or slow range-of-motion exercises or strengthening exercises.
There is research evidence supporting the use of specific strengthening exercises as part of routine practice for chronic neck pain, cervicogenic headache, and radiculopathy.
Ergonomics & Posture
Simple posture changes and better workplace ergonomics can help in preventing/reducing neck pain. Measures include adjustment of furniture height and computer position such that
- Eyes point directly at the top third of the screen
- The forearm is parallel to the floor
- Feet should be flat on the floor with thighs parallel with the floor
While sitting in the office chair it’s a good practice to have back aligned against the back of the office chair and avoid slouching. Avoid sitting in one place for too long. Taking regular breaks to walk around and stretch is a good practice.
Relaxation techniques: the relationship between stress and increased pain is well known and easily appreciated by most patients. Measures to deal with stress and anxiety help in more effective pain management.
Massage Therapy: The evidence supporting the use of massage therapy is limited although some people do find it useful in the short term. Massage can help in relaxing, loosening of muscles but it is important to remember that wrongly done massage can lead to harm.
Acupuncture: Certain people find acupuncture helpful in neck pain management. When performed correctly it is a low-risk procedure. The traditional acupuncture is based on the theory of restoring the energy balance in the body and removing any blockages to the flow of energy.
Injections/ other interventions such as Radiofrequency ablation: These would depend on the cause of neck pain and actual pathology. They have been explained in more detail in the neck & arm pain section under treatments, on my website- removemypain.com
Ignoring persisting symptoms can aggravate the situation leading to chronic pain with reduced functionality. So, if your pain persists and does not respond to usual lifestyle changes and painkillers then seek medical opinion on time.
Dr. Amod Manocha is a Senior Consultant and Head of Pain Management Services at Max Multispecialty Hospital, Saket. He is trained as a Pain Management Specialist and an Anaesthetist in the UK. He has over 13 years of work experience in the UK including working as a Chronic Pain Consultant in many UK hospitals.