Neck pain is a very common musculoskeletal disorder that affects approximately one in three people at least once a year. It can be mild or severe and can spread to our shoulders, arms and even cause headaches. Neck pain or discomfort is a multifactorial disease and can reduce productivity and efficiency, but a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical exercise, 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, Janakpuri, Delhi, said that neck pain can be of different types. Some common types include:
1. Occipital neuralgia – It is a type of headache that causes pain in the upper part of the neck, back of the head and behind the ears. The occipital nerves, which pass through the head, can become inflamed, or injured, causing occipital neuralgia.
2. Cervical Radiculopathy – This is sometimes known as a pinched nerve, which usually develops from a disc herniation in the neck. It can cause excruciating pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers. It is one of the most painful neck conditions, and thankfully has a good prognosis.
3. Facet Arthropathy – The term refers to arthritis of the small vertebral joints of the neck, and is a known cause of neck pain. This can be due to aging or conditions such as arthritis.
4. Myofascial Pain Syndrome – Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that affects the muscles and fascia of the neck. The lower and upper back, neck, shoulders, and chest are among the areas of the body where myofascial pain syndrome can manifest. It can be brought on by repetitive motions that people perform at work, stress-related muscle strain, muscle injuries, poor posture, or muscle group inactivity.
5. Cervical spondylosis – Age-related wear and tear in the cervical spine and discomfort and stiffness in the neck is called cervical spondylosis.
6. Whiplash Neck Sprain – This is caused by sudden trauma to your neck, accidents, car accidents, etc.
7. Fibromyalgia – It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain that may be associated with a disturbance of sleep, memory, and mood. Most people experience severe pain and stiffness in the neck and back.
Dr Vivek Loomba, a pain management physician at the Indian Spinal Injuries Center in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, points out some common causes of neck pain:
1. Physical stress – It is the most common cause of neck pain, resulting from overuse of neck muscles during activities like heavy physical exercise, weight lifting, carrying heavy bags on shoulders, driving/long distance travel etc. A sprained neck ligament or muscle. Sometimes this can result in disc herniation, which can cause neck pain to radiate down the arm.
2. Currency – Poor posture is one of the leading causes of neck pain. Prolonged sitting with a slouched back and forward-leaning neck while using smartphones and laptops (text neck syndrome) increases stress on the cervical spine, causing cervical bone weakness, stiffness and pain. Dr. Lumba says that the number of school-going children coming to his clinic with such symptoms is increasing. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem, he believes.
3. Whiplash injury – Sudden neck shocks in vehicle accidents can cause whiplash injuries, which can cause neck pain.
4. Arthritis – Arthritis of the vertebral joints of the neck can cause neck pain.
5. Miscellaneous – Neck pain can be due to other reasons like anxiety, depression, infection, tumor etc.
Dr Jagjit Singh reveals that neck pain can take many different forms, from a dull, irritating pain to a sharp, debilitating nerve pain that can radiate to the shoulders and arms. Dr. Singh emphasized that since the treatment depends on the etiology of the disease, it is important to establish the correct diagnosis before starting any treatment.
Neck pain can cause a variety of other symptoms, such as:
2. Lack of sleep
3. Neck stiffness/fatigue
4. Disturbed sleep patterns
5. Numbness or tingling in hands or fingers
6. Pain or weakness that goes down the arm
7. Occasional loss of bowel or bladder control
Management of neck pain:
Most neck pain problems resolve on their own within a few days, but if you experience severe pain, persistent discomfort or neck pain that interferes with your daily activities, you should consult a physician for further evaluation and treatment, Dr. Singh said. . Elaborating on this, he said that a pain management doctor or an orthopedic doctor can help by suggesting a single or combination of treatments to address your problem.
Most neck pain is benign and does not require surgery. Depending on the cause and severity of neck discomfort, there are several treatments available.
A multimodal approach to treating neck pain has proven to provide excellent results. According to Dr. Vivek Lumba, the most common treatments for neck pain include:
1. Prescribed medicines – Various medications include acetaminophen (Crocin), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, muscle relaxants such as Myoril, and weak opioids such as tramadol.
2. Physiotherapy – It is one of the most common remedies for chronic sore throat. The primary focus of physical therapy is to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in the neck.
3. Hot fermentation – Applying heat to the affected area can provide good relief from symptoms.
4. Injection – Another option for treating neck pain involves minor procedures. These include occipital nerve blocks, facet joint injections, epidural injections or trigger point injections. Additionally, radiofrequency ablation of the facet joints and occipital nerves can be performed for long-term relief. These procedures have been proven to provide pain relief in chronic neck pain patients.
5. Surgery – Most patients with neck pain respond well to conservative and non-surgical treatment. In rare cases, surgery is the only option. Patients with neck injuries such as road accidents may be at risk of paralysis if not treated immediately. Similarly, disc herniation patients may develop upper limb weakness that requires immediate surgery. Patients and their families must remember that immediate surgery in such cases can save lives, and any delay in decision-making can lead to dire and, in some cases, potentially fatal consequences.
According to Dr Jagjit Singh, making subtle lifestyle changes can help prevent conditions like sore throat. These include:
1. Ergonomics – Maintain correct body posture. With proper posture, bones and joints are aligned, thus preventing muscle strain and subsequent pain.
2. A healthy lifestyle with 10 to 15 minutes of neck exercises daily And regular neck stretching while using the computer or phone can prevent neck pain.
3. Avoid lifting heavy objects Because it can strain your neck.
4. Use seat belts So that some safety can be provided in road traffic accidents.
5. Seek help – If you develop persistent neck pain please see your pain doctor or orthopedic doctor. Self-medication can delay proper treatment, thereby worsening the problem.
A sore throat can be caused by a variety of causal factors and if you experience a sore throat, you should consult your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. Most neck pain can resolve on its own with rest and activity changes, but sometimes neck pain can be associated with a more serious pathology and may require specialized management.