Persistent neck pain can make performing normal activities nearly impossible. If you are struggling with neck pain, getting help from a qualified neck pain treatment center is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life.
Neck injuries can cause lasting pain that does not respond well to at-home treatments. Neck pain treatment centers have the ability to provide treatment and pain management that is tailored to your specific needs.
Here are 6 signs/reasons it is time for you to get help for your neck pain.
1. Whiplash After a Car Accident
Whiplash is a common injury that occurs when the head moves rapidly back and forth. This motion causes the neck muscles to tighten up leading to damage to the ligaments and joints in the neck. The end result is usually significant pain and stiffness. Whiplash most commonly occurs as a result of car accidents. However, whiplash injuries also occur after falls or other types of trauma.
It isn't uncommon for someone to be in a car accident and not notice the symptoms of whiplash until hours or days following the crash. This can be due to an abundance of adrenaline after a crash which can mask painful symptoms.
Whiplash symptoms include:
– neck pain
– blurred vision
– loss of consciousness
If you experience any of the last three symptoms and you have been in a recent accident, seek urgent medical attention. These need to be addressed in an emergency medical setting rather than a neck pain treatment center.
It is not uncommon to have lingering whiplash symptoms even after seeking initial treatment. In these cases, a combination of pain relievers and physical therapy are excellent treatment options.
2. Soft Tissue Neck Injury
Soft tissue neck injuries occur when there has been some type of strain on the soft tissues of the neck. These strains may come about through lifting heavy objects, playing sports, working out at the gym, etc. When this happens, the muscle, tendon, or ligament fibers become damaged causing them to swell and cause varying levels of discomfort.
There are two types of soft tissue neck injuries:
– Neck Sprain- Injury to neck ligament
– Neck Strain- Injury neck muscle of tendon
It is common for these two terms to be used interchangeably even though they are different conditions. Nonetheless, the symptoms they cause are very similar.
Soft tissue neck injury symptoms include:
– Pain that can be described as sharp and intense or achy and throbbing
– Pain in the neck region that worsens with movement
– Stiff neck
– Muscle spasms in the neck
Rest, ice and heat therapy and OTC pain medications are the most common treatments for soft tissue neck injuries. Severe injuries and reinjuries are more likely to need more extensive treatment.
3. Neck Fracture
Neck fractures are serious injuries and should be treated by a medical professional immediately.
Symptoms of neck fracture include:
– Neck pain
– Swelling and bruising
– Muscle weakness
– Numbness or paralysis in arms or legs
This injury is usually caused by a fall, car accident, or sudden hit to the head or twist of the neck. Often paramedics will be at the scene of these types of events that causes these injuries. If a neck fracture is suspected, medics will immobilize the patient and take them to the hospital for tests, imaging, and treatment.
Recovery from a neck fracture can take a long time and require the help of pain specialists and physical therapists. In some cases, surgery and long-term immobilization will be required. The physical rehabilitation and pain management needed after a neck fracture can be addressed at a neck pain treatment center.
4. Arthritis of the Neck
Neck arthritis is a condition where the joints of the neck become inflamed and painful. The pain usually starts at the base of the skull and radiates down the back of the neck. Neck arthritis can be caused by injury, stress, poor posture, or other factors. Most commonly, neck arthritis is caused by age-related wear and tear.
Neck arthritis symptoms include:
– Grinding or popping noises or sensations in the neck when turning the neck
– Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
– Numbness in the arms and fingers
There are many nonsurgical treatment options available for individuals experiencing arthritis of the neck. A pain management specialist might recommend a combination of the following treatment options:
– Physical therapy- This will help increase strength and regain a normal range of motion in the neck.
– Pain medications- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications and prescription pain medicines might be recommended depending on the level of pain being experienced.
– Soft cervical collars- These collars restrict movement of the neck which can help the healing process and limit painful movement.
– Ice and heat therapies- Alternating application of ice and heat has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation caused by injury and arthritis.
– Steroid injections- Cortisone injections directly place medication to reduce painful inflammation.
5. Poor Posture
Poor posture can lead to injury and chronic pain. Individuals who work long hours at desks or spend lots of time using screens are very susceptible to injuries and pain resulting from poor posture.
When people crane their heads forward, it causes increased stress on the neck. For every inch that the head is held forward, 10 pounds of weight are added to the cervical spine. The head itself weighs 10 to 12 pounds, so every inch forward can double the weight.
Poor posture also causes strain on the neck and shoulder muscles. This is also the result of the added weight that the forward head position causes. Pulled and strained muscles are common for people with poor posture.
A hunched upper back can also be a result of poor posture. This will cause a rounding of the shoulders and more muscle soreness for the individual.
Physical therapy and practicing correct posture are the best treatments for this cause of neck pain. Although, if there is significant damage to the muscles or if there is soft tissue damage that has been caused by poor posture more aggressive treatment might be needed.
6. Repetitive Strain Injury
Repetitive strain injury occurs when repeated movements over an extended period of time lead to inflammation and irritation of nerves and tissues. These repetitive motions may occur while working at your desk job, driving a vehicle, typing on a computer keyboard, playing sports such as tennis, golfing, swimming, etc., or even doing household chores like vacuuming, washing dishes, gardening, mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, lifting heavy objects, etc.
These injuries can affect the arms, wrists, shoulders, knees, elbows, back, and neck.
With repetitive strain injuries, it is common to only feel pain when performing the action that is responsible for the injury. With time and without treatment, the pain will become constant.
Sometimes a stiff neck can be a sign of a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention.
If you have a stiff neck with any of the following symptoms, seek medical assistance:
– Nausea and/or vomiting
– Problems with coordination
– Change in mental state
These symptoms might be caused by meningitis which is a very serious bacterial infection of the membranes of the spine and brain. Meningitis requires urgent medical attention so if you are experiencing these symptoms do not hesitate to find medical help.
If you are experiencing persistent neck pain caused by these conditions, it is time to find a neck pain treatment center near you. There are many options available to help improve your condition.
At MidSouth Pain, a team of experienced pain management experts will help design and implement a pain treatment plan that will help you regain the ability to perform normal activities.
You don't have to live with your chronic pain, contact MidSouth Pain today.