30 Jan 2021

Neck Pains Causes and Treatments

 

 

 

 

Bryan Se To

Neck pain is the second most common musculoskeletal problem encountered. Many Singaporeans have experienced neck pain or discomfort at some point in time. According to research, it has been estimated that 22–70% of the population experience neck pain at least once in their lifetime. 
 
More often than not, it is not a serious illness. However if it persists more than a few days and is accompanied by other symptoms, immediate treatment is required. If there is delayed treatment, such an ailment may lead to chronic pain which includes headaches, migraines and shoulder pain that affects other parts of the body.
 

Symptoms

  • Headaches

Discomfort felt in the neck can affect muscles and nerves connected to the head. 

  • Stiff Neck

There would be some difficulty and soreness when turning the head from side to side. 

  • Weakness of the Arms and Fingers

You may find it hard to grip or lift items if numbness and weakness is felt at the arms or fingers. 

  • Sharp Pain

You may experience pain localised to one spot, and a stabbing sensation may be felt. Such pain is usually felt at the lower neck.

 

Causes

As the neck is supported by bones, ligament and muscles, any slight tension, injury or inflammation can result in neck pain.

Some common causes of neck pain include:

Muscle strains and tension caused by

  • Poor posture
  • Overexertion during sports activities
  • Staying in the same position for long periods of time

Injuries

Car accident that results in a sudden jerk in the neck area, causing a strain in the soft tissue of the neck. 

Nerve Compression

The nerve branching out from the spinal cord could be pressed on by the herniated disks or bone in the backbone of our neck.

Another common cause includes neck pain after waking up in the morning, which is usually accompanied with stiffness and soreness. A sore neck is often caused by one’s sleeping position, the type of pillow or other various sleep issues. Most of these can be corrected.

What Caused It?

Sleeping Position

  • Ensure that you do not sleep on your belly for hours as your neck would be twisted on one side for hours resulting in strain muscle making them feel sore and stiff in the morning. 

Pillow

  • Your neck and head would spend long hours on the pillow hence it is essential to choose the right pillow
  • A pillow that does not provide the proper support for your neck and head can cause a strain in your neck muscles resulting in neck pain
  • Feather or memory-foam pillow is recommended

Sudden Movement

  • Sudden movement such as standing up quickly can cause tension in your neck muscles.

 

Prevention

Most neck pain is caused by poor posture combined with wear and tear due to old age. In order to prevent neck stiffness or tension, some prevention methods can be adopted.

  • Use Good Posture

When sitting or standing, ensure shoulders are in a straight line over your hips. 

  • Avoid neck strain from long hours of texting or using the computer

  • Exercise your neck

Throughout the day, strengthening your neck muscles by doing short and simple stretches such as chin tuck exercises. 

  • Carry weight evenly

Avoid carrying heavy objects on only one side of your body, this will result in uneven weight distribution.

Quick Remedies to Alleviate Neck Pain

  • Apply ice or a cold pack to your neck for at least 20 minutes. This can help ease the soreness in the muscles.
  • However if the pain persists for a day or more, use a heat pack instead.
  • Use painkillers such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen. 
  • Do some gentle stretching to improve blood circulation.

 

Treatment Options

  • When can neck pain treatments help?

There is a wide range of situations when we should seek help to ease neck pain. The situation includes acute pain, relaxation or tight muscles.

  • Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic neck adjustments help to loosen up the joints of the cervical vertebrae in the neck thereby reducing pain caused by the various factors, one of which is strain muscle. Chiropractors help to relieve these pains by aligning the vertebrae back in place, relaxing the muscle and reducing the pressure on nerves.

Duration of Treatment

The duration of treatment differs case by case. Those who experience neck pain as a result of car accidents or sports injuries have a higher chance of undergoing long-term care. In contrast,  those who face neck pain from posture issues are more likely to receive short-term care. 

  • Sports Massage

A neck massage helps to relieve tension, reduce headaches and ease one into relaxation. It helps to reduce pain, increase movement agility and decrease muscle tension. The techniques used include: 

Acupressure

Applying pressure to specific areas of the neck using the fingers and thumbs.

Mobilisation

Applying pressure to the spinous and transverse processes located on the vertebrate of the cervical spine.

Skin rolling

Fingers and thumbs are used to pick up and roll skin.

  • Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy helps patients in several ways

  • Reduce pain and stiffness around their neck area
  • Improve head and neck range of motion
  • Strengthe the neck and its supporting muscle
  • Prevent pain from recurring

Types of Physiotherapy

Passive Physical Therapy

The goal is to relieve swelling and pain in ways that does not include much effort from the patient. Techniques used include

  • Heat therapy
  • Applying ice packs, etc.
Active Physical Therapy

It involves exercising or stretching his or her body to improve strength and flexibility in the neck so that the patient can maintain good posture to reduce stress on the cervical spine.

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

TCM treats neck pain using acupuncture, moxibustion and TuiNa to help relieve the stress build up over time on the neck that results in muscular tension that results in pain. 

In TCM, it is believed that pain is associated with

  • Coldness (the cause of muscle contractions resulting it to be sore and in “knots”)
  • Dampness (the cause of swelling and soreness)
  • Deficiency (leading to degenerative changes)

The aim is to release the coldness to ease the muscles, improve blood circulation and dampness to reduce swelling and deficiency via nourishment to aid muscle strengthening.

 

How Can Calibrate Help?

With our verified practitioners such as Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Sports Massage Therapists, TCM and more, Calibrate seeks to help you better understand your treatment options. You may schedule a 1-1 consultation with us here to be directed to suitable experts for your unique conditions. Alternatively, find and book an expert near you for your neck pain.