Neck pain and tips to relieve it - Beaufort South Carolina The... - The Island News 82570622173.

 Neck pain affects more people than you might think. Seven out of ten people will experience neck pain at some point in their life, according to doctors.

 By describing the neck symptom or combination of symptoms, you can help your doctor figure out what's wrong.

 The most common causes of neck pain are listed below.

 1. Overexertion, prolonged physical or mental stress or muscle pain can cause neck and shoulder muscles to ache. The neck muscles can develop hard knots, which are tender to touch. These are sometimes called trigger points.

 2. A muscle spasm is a sudden and powerful tightening in the neck muscles. Your neck may feel tight, knotted or painful and you may find it difficult to turn your head. If you wake up with a stiff neck and pain, it's probably a muscle spasm. Muscle spasms can be caused by a muscle injury or a disk problem. A neck muscle spasm can be triggered by emotional stress, but there are often no obvious causes.

 3. Headache. Neck-related pain is often felt at the back of the neck and the upper head. It is usually caused by muscle tension. Neck-related headaches are usually dull or aching rather than sharp. The neck may also feel stiff or tender. It gets worse when you move your neck.

 4. Facet joint discomfort can be described as deep, sharp or aching. It may also radiate into your shoulder or upper spine. As with other locations, arthritis in the facet joint (part of the cervical vertebrae) may feel worse when you wake up or after a period inactivity.

 5. Irritation of the spinal roots can cause pain that is sharp, fleeting or severe. It may also be accompanied by pins-and-needles. The pain can travel down the arm, or even into the hands depending on the nerve.

 6. Referred pain. Referred Pain is pain that occurs in one part of your body when another part is affected. Neck pain that gets worse with exercise may be a sign of a heart condition, while neck discomfort that occurs after eating may be a sign of an esophagus problem.

 7. Neck pain caused by soft tissues is far more common than pain in the cervical vertebrae. Medical attention is needed for bone pain, as it could be a sign of a more serious problem.

 Neck pain is usually a gradual process. Dr. Zacharia Isaac of Harvard Medical School and the Comprehensive Spine Care Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital says that neck pain can be caused by arthritis or degenerative disc disease and exacerbated by poor posture, declining muscular strength, stress and even lack of sleep.

 You and your doctor can use a combination of self help techniques and over the counter pain medications to manage and relieve pain.

  6 ways of relieving neck pain

 1. Do not stay in the same position for too long. Dr. Isaac says it's difficult to reverse bad posture. However, if you move around and get up often, you can avoid your neck getting stuck in a bad position.

 2. Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor so that you can easily see it. Wear a headset or use the hands-free feature on your phone. Instead of laying flat on your lap, prop your tablet up on a pillow at a 45deg. angle.

 3. If you wear glasses, keep your prescription up to date.

Many people, more than you think, are bothered by neck pain. At some point in their lives, it is estimated by doctors that seven out of 10 people will be troubled by such pain. 

By clearly describing your specific neck symptom—or combination of symptoms—you can help your doctor determine what’s wrong and how to help.

Here are the most common types of neck pain.

1. Muscle pain. Aching or sore neck and shoulder muscles may occur in response to overexertion or prolonged physical or emotional stress. The neck muscles may develop hard knots that are tender to the touch, sometimes called trigger points.

2. Muscle spasm. This is a sudden, powerful tightening of neck muscles. Your neck may hurt, feel tight or knotted and it may be impossible to turn your head. When you wake up with a painful stiff neck, that’s likely a muscle spasm. Muscle spasm can result from a muscle injury, but it may also occur in response to a disk or nerve problem. Emotional stress may trigger a neck muscle spasm, but often there is no clear cause.

3. Headache. Neck-related headache is most often felt in the back of the head and upper neck and is usually the result of muscle tension or spasm. Neck-related headache pain is usually dull or aching, rather than sharp — the neck might also feel stiff or tender. Moving your neck makes it worse.

4. Facet joint pain. Often described as deep, sharp, or aching, facet joint pain typically worsens if you lean your head toward the affected side and may radiate to your shoulder or upper back. Arthritis in the facet joints (part of the vertebrae of the neck), as in other locations, may feel worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

5. Nerve pain. Irritation or pinching of the roots of the spinal nerves causes pain that may be sharp, fleeting, severe, or accompanied by pins and needles. Depending on the nerve involved, the pain may shoot down the arm or even into the hand.

6. Referred pain. Referred pain is pain in one part of the body that is triggered by a problem in another part of the body. For example, neck pain that worsens with exertion may indicate a heart problem, while neck pain that occurs when you eat may stem from a problem in the esophagus.

7. Bone pain. Pain and tenderness in the cervical vertebrae are far less common than neck pain from the soft tissues. Bone pain needs medical attention because it may signal a more serious health problem.

Neck pain usually evolves over time. It may be spurred by arthritis or degenerative disk disease and accentuated by poor posture, declining muscle strength, stress, and even a lack of sleep, says Dr. Zacharia Isaac, medical director of the Comprehensive Spine Care Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and director of interventional physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

There are many things you and your doctor can do to manage and relieve your pain, including a combination of self-help techniques and over-the-counter pain medications.

6 ways to ease neck pain

1. Don’t stay in one position for too long. It’s hard to reverse bad posture, Dr. Isaac says, but if you get up and move around often enough, you’ll avoid getting your neck stuck in an unhealthy position.

2. Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor at eye level so you can see it easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your touch-screen tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45° angle, instead of lying flat on your lap.

3. If you wear glasses, keep your prescription up to date. “When your eyewear prescription is not up to date, you tend to lean your head back to see better,” Dr. Isaac says.

4. Don’t use too many pillows. Sleeping with several pillows under your head can stifle your neck’s range of motion.

5. Know your limits. Before you move a big armoire across the room, consider what it might do to your neck and back, and ask for help.

6. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems increase the risk for several different conditions, including musculoskeletal pain.

Generally, neck pain is nothing to worry about. But if it’s occurring with other, more serious symptoms, such as radiating pain, weakness, or numbness of an arm or leg, make sure to see your doctor. Other key things that might make one more concerned are having a fever or weight loss associated with your neck pain, or severe pain. You should let your doctor know about these symptoms.

Excerpted from “Neck Pain: A troubleshooting guide to help you find relief”, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. Visit their website at 
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