Neck pain can drastically affect daily activities at home or at work whether caused by simple muscle tension or a different condition. Since the neck is comprised of several muscles and responsible for keeping the head straight, it is prone to injuries and soreness.
The presence of neck pain can reduce the range of motion which prevents full turning of the head. The discomfort can even radiate to other parts of the body.
What are the possible causes of neck pain?
The usual cause of neck pain while stretching is no other than a muscle strain. Turning the head sideways or rotated in its axis lengthens the muscles that might have constricted due to poor posture or overuse. Being hunched over a computer or driving long hours can tire out the muscles and trigger pain while stretching. Overused neck muscles constantly trigger chronic stiffness and pain.
Abrupt movements that cause the head to jerk forwards and backwards can damage the delicate soft tissues in the neck. This injury is commonly called whiplash that is characterized by debilitating, severe pain especially in the sides and back of the head. In addition, getting out of bed can be a sore ordeal.
Certain conditions that typically occur with age can trigger neck pain. Compression of a nerve, osteoarthritis and disc degeneration can start with minor aches and eventually progresses to long-standing pain unless properly treated.
In rare occasions, meningitis and even cancer can cause neck pain but can occur with other symptoms.
Treatment at home
The usual type of neck pain reacts well to conservative treatment. It is recommended to rest the neck periodically if the individual maintains the same position for extended periods.
Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin as well as acetaminophen and naproxen sodium are used for short-term relief from pain. The individual can perform mild stretching of the neck by lowering the head to one shoulder as far as the pain allows and hold for 30 seconds and then alternate sides. In addition, apply an ice pack for at least 20 minutes. This can be followed with heat application if it helps relieve the pain.
What to do for intense neck pain?
In case the pain does not seem to subside after a few days of treatment or becomes severe that the individual could not move the head, it is best to consult a doctor.
Consulting a physical therapist is usually recommended so that mild stretching exercises are carried out to keep the muscles supple. In severe cases, the doctor might recommend the short-term use of a neck brace along with medications such as corticosteroid injections or muscle relaxants. If the neck pain is accompanied by vomiting, fever or severe headache, a doctor should be consulted right away.
In most cases, the neck pain is due to poor posture. It is vital to keep the head properly balanced over the spine by taking frequent breaks as well as making the necessary adjustments to the chair, computer or desk. In addition, it is vital to avoid sleeping on the stomach.