Neck pain is usually a short term condition but this doesn’t mean it isn’t uncomfortable and extremely painful. Sometimes it is due to an underlying problem, an accident or injury and managing neck pain and helping to alleviate it is essential if you want to get on in your day to day life.
In most instances neck pain or a stiff neck is nothing to be worried about but if the symptoms continue and you are in pain that you can’t ignore, it is definitely worth seeking treatment and further advice.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain is caused by a whole range of different issues including:
- Abnormalities or issues with the bones or joints
- Trauma, accident or injury
- Poor posture including awkward sleeping positions
- Muscle strain or sprain from exercising or lifting and carrying
- Anxiety and/or stress which can cause muscle tension in the neck
- Degenerative diseases
This isn’t a catch all list and there will be other reasons and causes for individual neck pain, which doctors will often describe as ‘non-specific’.
How is Neck Pain Diagnosed?
Neck pain is usually diagnosed in the first instance through an examination with your GP and from this point you may be prescribed treatment or you may be sent for further testing including MRI scans to check the condition of your nerves and whether they could be linked to the pain. You may also receive a referral to your local pain clinic if necessary.
What Can I Do To Treat my Neck Pain?
If your neck pain is similar to a stiff neck then you can follow these basic tips for treatment:
Painkillers and NSAIDs
Whilst your neck is in pain take regular doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen to help control the pain. You could also use ibuprofen gel to rub directly onto the sore parts of your neck rather than taking the medication orally.
If possible try holding a hot water bottle to the sore part of your neck which may help reduce the pain and alleviate muscle spasms. Some people recommend a cold pack over heat treatment but this may depend on the individual.
Change your Sleeping Habits
To protect your need sleep on a low, firm pillow, helping to keep your neck in a natural position. Too many pillows may force your neck into unnatural positions and cause the muscles to stretch and strain awkwardly.
Avoid Neck Collars
Unless specifically prescribed by a doctor you shouldn’t wear a neck collar. There is no evidence this will help your neck to heal and general advice is to keep your neck as mobile as possible.
If you are unable to alleviate your pain through these methods at home then you should consult with your doctor. They may refer you to the local pain clinic for advice in managing your pain or they may suggest some neck exercises to strengthen the neck muscles and make them more resistant to stiffness and spasms.
To discuss any neck problems you have please contact Dr Stephanie Barrett on:
Tel: 020 7730 8508