Neck pain is a very common musculoskeletal disorder that affects about one in three people at least once a year. It can be light or heavy and can spread through our shoulders and arms and also lead to headaches. Neck pain or discomfort is a multifactorial condition and can lead to reduced productivity and efficiency, but a healthy lifestyle that consists of regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and a good work-life balance can keep neck pain at bay.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Jagjit Singh, Senior Orthopedic Consultant at Mata Chanan Devi Hospital in Delhi’s Janakpuri, shares that neck pain can be of different types. Some of the most common types are:
1. Occipital Neuralgia – It is a type of headache that causes pain in the upper neck, back of the head, and behind the ears. The occipital nerves that run through the scalp can become inflamed or injured, causing occipital neuralgia.
2. Cervical Radiculopathy – It’s sometimes called a pinched nerve, which usually develops from a herniated disc in the neck. This can lead to excruciating pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, and fingers. This is one of the most painful neck conditions and fortunately has a good prognosis.
3. Facet Arthropathy – The term implies arthritis of the small vertebral joints of the neck and is a known cause of neck pain. It can be caused by conditions like aging or rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Myofascial Pain Syndrome – Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder that affects the neck muscles and fascia. The lower and upper back, neck, shoulders and chest are some of the parts of the body where myofascial pain syndrome can manifest. This can be caused by repetitive movements at work, stress-related muscle strain, muscle injury, poor posture, or inactivity of muscle groups.
5. Cervical Spondylosis – Cervical spondylosis is age-related wear and tear of the cervical spine, leading to neck discomfort and stiffness.
6. Whiplash Neck Sprain – This is due to rapid trauma to your neck caused by an accident, car crash, etc.
7. Fibromyalgia – It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain that can accompany sleep, memory, and mood disorders. Most people experience severe pain and stiffness in their neck and back.
dr Vivek Loomba, pain management physician at Indian Spinal Injuries Center in New Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, pointed out some common causes that lead to neck pain:
1. Physical Stress – This is the most common cause of neck pain resulting from overuse of the neck muscles during activities such as heavy physical exercise, weight lifting, carrying heavy bags on the shoulder, driving/traveling long distances, etc. All of these activities can cause neck pain as a result of a sprained neck ligament or muscle. Occasionally, a disc herniation can occur, which can cause neck pain that radiates down the arm.
2. Posture – Poor posture is one of the main causes of neck pain. Prolonged sitting with an arched back and neck that is bent forward when using smartphones and laptops (text neck syndrome) leads to increased stress on the cervical spine and thus to cervical spine degeneration, stiffness and pain. dr Loomba says there is a steady increase in schoolchildren coming to his clinic with these symptoms. The pandemic has only made the problem worse, he believes.
3. Whiplash – Sudden jerky neck movements in vehicle accidents can cause whiplash, resulting in neck pain.
4. Arthritis – Arthritis of the vertebral joints of the neck can lead to neck pain.
5. Miscellaneous – Neck pain can result from other causes such as anxiety, depression, infection, tumors, etc.
dr Jagjit Singh revealed that neck pain can take many different forms, from a dull, irritable ache to a burning, debilitating nerve pain that can spread down the shoulder and into the arm. Because treatment depends on the etiology of the disease, Dr. Singh said it was important to get the right diagnosis before starting treatment.
Neck pain can lead to various other symptoms, such as:
2. Lack of sleep
3. Neck stiffness/fatigue
4. Disrupted sleep pattern
5. Numbness or tingling in arms or fingers
6. Pain or weakness extending to the arm
7. Occasional loss of bowel or bladder control
Treating Neck Pain:
The vast majority of neck pain goes away on its own within a few days, but if you’re experiencing severe pain, persistent discomfort, or neck pain that’s interfering with your daily activities, you should see a doctor for further evaluation and treatment, says Dr. singh . He explained it further, saying that a pain medicine specialist or an orthopedist can help you by addressing your problem and suggesting a therapy or combination of therapies.
Most neck pain is benign and does not require surgery. There are many treatment options available depending on the cause and severity of the neck discomfort.
A multimodal approach to treating neck pain has been shown to yield the best results. according to dr Vivek Loomba are among the most common treatments for neck pain:
1. Prescribed Medications – Various medications include acetaminophen (Crocin), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, muscle relaxants like Myoril, and weak opioids like tramadol.
2. Physiotherapy – It is one of the most common treatments for chronic neck pain. The main focus of physical therapy is to stretch and strengthen muscles and tendons in the neck.
3. Hot Fomentation – Applying heat to the affected area can provide good symptom relief.
4. Injections – The other alternative for treating neck pain involves minor surgeries. These include occipital nerve blocks, facet joint injections, epidural injections or trigger point injections. In addition, radiofrequency ablation of the facet joints and occipital nerves can be performed for long-lasting relief. These procedures have been shown to relieve pain in patients with chronic neck pain.
5. Surgery – Most patients with neck pain respond well to conservative and nonsurgical treatment. In rare cases, surgery is the only option. Patients who recover from neck trauma, e.g. B. after a traffic accident, may be at risk of paralysis if no urgent surgical evaluation is performed. Similarly, patients with a herniated disc may develop upper extremity weakness that requires urgent surgery. Patients and their families should keep in mind that urgent surgery in such cases can be life-saving and any delay in decision-making can lead to dire and, in some cases, potentially fatal consequences.
according to dr Jagjit Singh, subtle lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing conditions like neck pain. These include:
1. Ergonomics – Pay attention to the correct posture. With the right posture, bones and joints are brought into harmony, thus preventing muscle strain and the resulting pain.
2. A healthy lifestyle with 10 to 15 minutes of neck exercises every day and regular neck stretches while using a computer or the phone can help prevent neck pain.
3. Avoid lifting heavy objects as this can strain your neck.
4. Use a seat belt as this can provide some protection in traffic accidents.
5. Seek Help – Please see your pain doctor or orthopedist if you develop persistent neck pain. Self-medication can delay proper treatment and make the problem worse.
Neck pain can result from a variety of causative factors, and if you have neck pain, you should see your doctor sooner rather than later. Most neck pain can go away on its own with changes in rest and activity, but occasional neck pain may be related to a more serious pathology and may require specialized treatment.