Muscle pain in the neck is a common complaint. Almost everyone has experienced muscle pain in the neck to some degree. Various factors cause neck pain, including sleeping in an awkward position, stress, or working on a computer. This can lead to patients experiencing mild to moderate pain.
However, sometimes muscle pain is more severe. This may be experienced if you have been in a serious car accident, injury, or orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Mild to moderate pain usually will resolve on its own, but if it becomes chronic, it may be time to see a doctor as there may be an underlying condition that is causing pain.
Along with muscle pain, you may experience other symptoms. Some may include:
Spasms can cause a sudden tightening in the neck. Along with pain, your neck may feel tight, and it becomes painful to turn your neck.
Joint pain can feel deep or sharp and can be caused by the facet joints, which are part of the vertebrae in the neck. The pain can radiate to the upper back or shoulders.
Neck pain can cause headaches that are felt in the neck or back of the head. Often this is due to tension which causes spasms in the neck. Usually, you experience dull or aching pain.
Pinching of the spinal nerves can cause sharp pain in the neck. It may radiate down the arm and can feel like pins and needles.
To successfully treat chronic neck pain, your doctor needs to determine the source of your neck pain. The doctor will start by getting a history of your symptoms and completing a physical exam.
They may check the rotation of your neck, pain experienced, and the function of the muscles in other areas of the body.
From a history and physical, the doctor can often determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.
Tests that may be ordered, include an MRI, X-Ray, CT, or an EMG (electromyogram) which evaluates nerve and muscle functioning.
Before seeking treatment, it is important to know when you should see a doctor:
Various treatment options may be recommended to treat your pain. Options can include physical therapy, TENS units, traction, or immobilization of the neck. The doctor may also suggest corticosteroid injections in the neck. Numbing options such as lidocaine injections can also be used as a treatment option.
Surgery is rarely necessary as there are many options to treat pain with non-surgical options. However, surgery can be considered for treating nerve root or spinal cord compression.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.
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