Pain in the Neck? 5 Common Causes & Neck Pain Treatments to Relieve Your Ache


Your neck consists of small bones known as vertebrae, and the vertebrae sit on top of each other to form your spinal column. The spinal column protects your spinal cord and supports the weight of your head. A healthy spinal cord is vital since it helps transmit messages from your brain to the rest of your body. 
Cervical vertebrae are the name of the seven bones that lie at the top of your spinal column and form your neck. Your muscles and the small joints between vertebrae allow you to turn your neck. The vertebrae also contain cartilage that absorbs pressure on your neck. Acute or chronic neck pain can develop for various reasons, as the neck is a critical but delicate bodily system. 
Neck Pain Lady in Pain

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Pain is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. Neck Pain can be a common occurrence in daily life. It’s important to know what may have caused your pain to properly treat it or know when it’s more severe and discuss it with your doctor.

Poor Posture and Ergonomics 

Millions of Americans have desk jobs that require them to sit while looking at computer screens for eight hours each day. If this describes you and your work area still needs to be set up with ergonomics in mind, chronic neck pain may result. 

The heavy use of smartphones is another common contributor to neck pain, so take frequent screen breaks. Try to sit with your back and shoulders as straight as possible when you must be at your desk and using your phone. 

Muscle Strain or Sprain 

This type of neck injury typically results from overexertion or repetitive use. You may notice hard knots known as trigger points when you feel your neck. Muscle spasms, which involve sudden tightening of neck muscles, can also lead to chronic neck pain. 

Degenerative Conditions 

Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative condition that causes significant neck pain. This condition occurs when the neck's bones, discs, and joints deteriorate. Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of muscle spasms in the neck. 

Whiplash or Other Injuries 

Whiplash occurs when your head and neck snap forward suddenly and violently, a frequent outcome of car accidents. Trip and fall accidents, assaults, and exercise are other common ways you can develop chronic neck pain from a one-time injury. 

Stress or Tension 

Ongoing and unrelenting emotional stress can affect your body in more ways than you might realize. Pain can radiate to your neck from such activities as clenching your jaw and frequently holding back anger and frustration. 

Understanding the Symptoms and When to Seek Medical Help 

Pain management is critical to resolving neck pain. If you are struggling with pain or limited range of motion, schedule an appointment with your medical provider as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. 

Benefits of Early Intervention and Proper Diagnosis 

You may think you have no choice but to live with chronic neck pain when the remedies you have tried failed to bring relief, but that is not true. When your neck pain is severe or chronic, schedule an appointment with your doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis and begin treatment. 

Consider that neck pain is subjective; there is no definitive test for it, and its symptoms can indicate anything from a minor inconvenience to a neurological disorder or even cancer. Prompt treatment is critical regardless of the cause of your neck pain. 

Neck Pain Treatments 

Understanding why you developed neck pain is helpful, but it is not always possible to determine the cause. What matters more is getting the treatment you need to start feeling better. 

Self-Care and Home Remedies 

You may treat your neck pain at home without needing medical intervention. However, you should always consult your doctor before beginning any new home remedy. Your physician may advise you to try the following: 

  • Commit to proper posture and ergonomics at home and work. 
  • Schedule time in your day for stretching and strengthening exercises to improve your range of motion. 
  • Take over-the-counter pain medicine every eight hours or as directed on the packaging. 
  • Use an ice pack or heating pad on your neck to relieve sore muscles. 

Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Care 

Non-drug and non-surgical treatment methods can be an essential part of your recovery. You may be recommend seeing a physical therapist, chiropractor, or both as part of your treatment plan. Your physical therapist or chiropractor may use one or more of the methods below to alleviate your chronic neck pain. 

  • Chiropractic manipulation involves using various techniques to adjust your neck and spine to bring them back into alignment. 
  • Customized exercise programs are the hallmark of an excellent physical therapy program. Your physical therapist will ask you several questions and review your medical history during your first appointment to create an exercise program that works for you. 
  • Massage therapy for your neck from a chiropractor or physical therapist can help reduce or eliminate neck pain with firm pressure applied to the areas where you feel sore. 

Medical Interventions 

In addition to the options listed above, your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments. 
Injections may be necessary if you have nerve root damage or your neck pain is due to an injury. You may then receive an epidural injection at the back of your spine near the facet joints. Several other types of injections are also available. 

Prescription pain medicine falls into several categories. These include corticosteroids, opioids, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, muscle relaxers, and antispasmodics. Name-brand and generic prescription drugs are available under each category, and your doctor will help you select one that is right for you. 

Surgery is a last resort to relieve chronic neck pain when less invasive methods have failed. Stabilizing the central spine or decompressing a nerve root are two standard surgical procedures for neck pain. 

Alternative Therapies 

Nonmedical interventions aside from physical therapy or chiropractic care are viable options for relieving pain in your neck. You might also consider one of the three options below. 

  • Acupuncture for neck pain involves a practitioner placing several tiny needles in and around your neck to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. 
  • Herbal remedies like turmeric and ginger have relieved some neck pain sufferers. 
  • Mind-body techniques teach you to be more in tune with your body and surroundings. Exercises like guided imagery, yoga, and meditation may complement your other treatments. 

Prevention Tips for Avoiding Neck Pain 

As with any pain or medical condition, preventing neck pain is always better than treating it. While change is not always easy, the good news is that making a few simple modifications to your lifestyle can go a long way in pain management. 

Lifestyle changes and self-care practices to prevent and manage neck pain 

Maintaining good posture is essential to warding off chronic neck pain. Other things you can do include sleeping on your back, keeping your computer and phone at eye level, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and ensuring you have a supportive pillow when sleeping. 

Keep These Things in Mind 

Neck pain is common, and most people can expect to experience it at least a few times. Most neck pain turns out to be mild and goes away on its own or with minimal intervention. However, severe or chronic pain may indicate an underlying problem that requires medical attention at Western Reserve Hospital.

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