Should You Seek Treatment for Your Neck Pain?


Neck Pain

The average human head weighs approximately eight pounds. This can be a lot of weight for the delicate muscles and tendons of the neck and of course the slender cervical spine to bear. Vigorous activity such as running, dancing, or skiing only serve to make this part of the skeleto-muscular system work harder. All of this said, it is not surprising to learn that nearly 70% of American adults will be affected by neck pain during their lifetimes. Neck pain relief may come in many forms, ranging from at home remedies to treatment under the care of a trusted doctor of osteopathy.

When nerves or discs that are part of the neck makeup are injured, inflamed or in some way traumatized, muscle spasms may occur or there may be sharp shooting pain or the sensation of pins and needles. These symptoms may be localized to the neck and shoulder or may travel down to the limbs. Some pain is considered referred, or a symptom of a problem not related to the neck. For example, an injured arm may have pain symptoms that travel up to the neck.

Neck pain comes in varying degrees and types of pain from chronic to acute, sharp to dull, shooting or stinging. It is not uncommon to hear people report that a simple nod or head turn set off the pain episode. Perhaps the most commonly reported type of neck pain is muscle soreness. Strain from overexertion, hunched shoulders, poor posture or even emotional stress may cause aches and pains in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Spasms in the neck muscles present a more severe and acute type of pain that may limit neck movement.

These spasms are often referred to as cricks and may be caused by a muscle injury or a more serious problem in the disc or nerves. Although uncomfortable and potentially limiting for a few days, this pain with muscle soreness or headache are examples of pain relief from home treatments such as OTC pain relievers, ice or heat treatments, massage or gentle stretching. However, when the pain and headache are accompanied by a fever, seek osteopathic advice to rule out any bacterial infection, while then providing relief via osteopathic manipulation and holistic treatment.

For pains without fever, other forms of neck pain relief and prevention are gentle stretching, using proper pillow height and firmness to provide sleeping support and an ergonomic arrangement of desk, chair and computer at work and home. Depending on the type, onset and duration of the symptoms will help determine how to achieve neck pain relief.

When discussing symptoms with an osteopathic professional, be sure to provide a complete picture of physical and mental stressors and injury. With a complete picture, the doctor is better able to provide a holistic approach to neck pain relief recommendations or treatments. Even for symptoms that seem harmless, it is always a best practice to consult with a trusted osteopath before applying any home technique for neck pain relief.

by Alexandra Kincaid