by Seth Joseffer, MD
The phrase “a neck pain” is a fun method of describing something that’s irritating. However, for many people neck pain isn’t a problem to be laughed at.
Neck pain is a problem that affects 33% of people each year according the National Institutes of Health. The symptoms can vary from mild to intense that it hinders routine activities.
The majority of neck pains are not life-threatening, and it can be treated and resolved over time. In rare instances it could be an indication of something more serious, and require urgent care.
The Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center for Spine Care provides top quality, personalized, and comprehensive treatment for patients suffering from neck discomfort. The center integrates the various aspects of diagnosis, treatment, surgery, rehabilitation , and health to reduce the pain and improve functioning.
The causes of Neck Pain
The causes of neck pain include tissues that are irritated by nerves, bones, ligaments, joints or muscles of the neck. The pain can be localized in the neck or it could radiate down both arms or even the legs.
A few of the most common causes of neck pain include:
* Osteoarthritis. A degenerative joint condition that is usually caused through wear and tear on joints as you get older. The neck osteoarthritis is a problem that affects greater than 85 percent of all people older than 60, as per the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
A herniated disk. The vertebrae or bones that comprise the vertebrae of your spine have been cushioned tiny disks, which are round and act as shock absorbers for spinal bones. All in all the spine is comprised of 24 bones, of which seven make up the cervical spine or neck, and each is protected by a disk. Similar to a jelly donut these disks feature a solid outer layer that is surrounded by an emulsion-like central. When the layer on top gets damaged (think that you bite into donuts) it’s jellylike material is squeezed out. If this happens, it’s classified as an herniated disk.
* Insufficient or weak neck muscles. A poor posture, or sleeping in a position that is uncomfortable could cause acute neck discomfort. When you sit at your desk for an extended period with muscles that are tight can cause stiffness and discomfort in the neck and shoulders. Additionally, any activity that requires the head to be in an upright place, such as painting ceilings, can result in pain.
In addition, an injury that is sudden can result in neck pain and, in rare instances, an illness, like meningitis or cancer, could be the reason.
Neck pain symptoms could include:
* Headache, stiffness facial pain, dizziness or stiffness.
* Muscle weakness, pain, or numbness of the arm.
* A tingling sensation that can be felt on the fingers or hands.
* Problem with balance.
* Leg weakness or difficulties walking.
Neck pain can be localized to a specific spot or transferred to a different part of the body because of the pressure that is placed on the nerve or spinal cord.
If you are experiencing symptoms that persist for a few days without relief, you should consult your physician. Find urgent medical treatment when pain is intense abrupt, sudden, or associated with extreme headache, fever or impairment of bodily functions because these could be signs of a medical issue that is serious.
The pain in the neck that lasts up to two weeks can be described as acute. On the other hand, signs of pain in the neck that persist for more than three months are deemed chronic.
Your doctor is likely to inquire about the time when pain started and where exactly it hurts, and if you were involved in an accident. The doctor will then conduct an examination physical that involves the neck’s position and the ease with which you move your head. In certain instances imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT, or MRI scans might be required.
The majority of neck pains is treated using non-invasive methods, like exercise, physical therapy, as well as medication. Your physician may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug to ease discomfort. Sometimes, corticosteroids injections or an epidural steroid could be suggested.
In some situations, when alternatives like rest and medications don’t work, surgery might be suggested.
The most commonly used surgical procedures employed for treating neck pain include:
• Traditional spinal fusion, which is the removal of damaged disks as well as joining several vertebrae. In certain cases screws or plates is utilized to improve the fusion as well as support weak regions in the spine. Patients are usually able to go home on the same day of the procedure or after spending for a night within the institution.
Artificial disk replacement that is, surgeons remove from the injured disk to replace with a synthetic disk that acts as natural disks and helps keep the normal range of neck motion. The minimally invasive procedure is carried out by making one-to-two-inch cuts around the neck’s crease. The procedure generally takes just one 1 hour. Patients can usually go home the next day.
Since neck pain is typically due to poor posture and lifestyle choices There are a few adjustments that you can make to help protect your spine and avoid suffering.
* Improve your posture. Sit up straight and stand. Make sure that your shoulders are straight over your hips. Ensure that your ears are directly above your shoulders.
* Make sure to take breaks. When you sit for long periods at a desk at home, in the car or at any other location, be certain to take breaks for your body. Take a break off your chair or pull your car over so you can move through the streets and stretch.
Adjust your workspace. Set your computer’s monitor at eye level, and then alter your chair so the knees of your higher than the hips. Make sure your chair comes with armrests, and make use of them.
* Exercise. Activities to strengthen the neck back and abdominal muscles can help maintain good posture and reduce discomfort. Yoga, Pilates, and swimming are all beneficial to your neck.
* Don’t smoke. Smokers should you should try to stop. Smoking causes degeneration and could cause more pain.
Make sure you follow an anti-inflammatory dietary plan. A lot of patients report an eating plan that is free of processed food items, red meat and alcohol, and is high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, lean proteins along with healthy fats, has lead to less discomfort.
* Rest well. As you rest your neck and head should be in alignment to your own body. Make use of a small cushion and then try lying in your back and lifting your legs. This can help in reducing the size of your spinal muscles.
Be aware of what you carry. Bags that are heavy, especially those with straps that extend over the shoulder, could put unnecessary strain on your neck.
To locate a doctor who is affiliated to Penn Medicine Princeton Health, call 888-742-742 or visit princetonhcs.org.
Seth Joseffer, MD, is board certified in spine and neurological surgery. He is co-director of the Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center Center for Spine Care.
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