Neck Stiffness & Pain
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain or neck stiffness is a common complaint–and while most episodes of neck pain will get better with time–there are some cases that need medical attention immediately. Understanding the root causes of neck stiffness or pain can help you determine which category you fall into.
Where Neck Pain Begins: Neck pain is a common problem that severely impacts the quality of your life. It can limit your ability to be active. It can cause you to miss work. Many different causes may lead to pain in your neck.
Often neck pain can be muscle-related — muscle tension, cramps and strains can all cause discomfort. Neck pain can also be caused by compression of the spinal nerves. Herniated discs or bone growths caused by osteoarthritis can press against the nerves or fractures of the spine can reduce the amount of space around them. This type of pain may not go away, even after weeks.
Neck pain or stiffness can happen for a variety of reasons including:
- Poor posture
- Degenerative diseases (osteoarthritis)
- Trauma (Injury)
- Pinched nerve
- Muscle strain
- Abnormalities in the bone or joints
Types of Neck Stiffness & Pain
Neck stiffness and pain typically falls into two main categories: acute or chronic.
Acute neck pain occurs suddenly and heals within several days to weeks. This is because the blood supply in the soft tissues is still good enough to deliver the nutrients and proteins that are essential for the healing process to occur. The source of pain is usually in the muscles and ligaments, joints, or discs.
Chronic neck pain lasts longer than three months. Pain is continuous and may even worsen with certain activities. The source of pain is sometimes harder to determine but is often linked to nerve damage, arthritis, tissue scarring, or emotional effects of pain. Patients that suffer from chronic symptoms may be referred to a pain specialist.
When to See a Neck Pain Specialist?
Most neck pain improves gradually with home treatment, over-the-counter medications and ointments. But if it doesn’t, you should consult with your doctor. You should also see your doctor if pain spreads down your arms or leg, is accompanied by headache, numbness, weakness, or tingling, or if you have recently suffered an injury, such as a motor vehicle accident or fall.
Treatment Options for Neck Stiffness and Pain
Treatment for neck stiffness and pain will depend on your diagnosis. Your doctor will look over your medical history and perform a physical exam. You may also need to undergo additional imaging studies and tests to help determine the cause of your neck pain.
Healing begins with self-care and nonsurgical strategies, such as ice, exercise, medicine, massage, chiropractic care, and injections. Surgery is rarely needed but may be the only option if the patient has conditions such as muscle weakness, cervical cord compression, disc herniation, balance and coordination issues, tingling in arms (Cervical Radiculopathy), Sciatica (Lumbar Radiculopathy), Spinal Stenosis, Spondylosis, Spondylolisthesis, Spinal Arthritis, Degenerative Disc Disease or other severe pain that does not respond to nonsurgical treatments.
In most cases, people with acute neck pain respond quickly to treatment and will find relief. Prevention is key, however, to avoiding a recurrence of pain.
If you are in the North Houston area and believe you need to see a physician about your neck pain, call our office at 281-880-0700 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fayaz.