Neck pain is caused by any damage, temporary or permanent, that is done to the muscle, bones, or ligaments in your neck. Treatment can range from simple remedies to surgical procedures. The origins and type of pain you are experiencing will determine the kind of treatment that will work best for you.
Acute Neck Pain
When you are experiencing neck pain for just a short period of time due to minor injury or increased stress on your neck, it will usually be able to resolve itself within four to six weeks. You can still do some things in the meantime to help with the pain, though.
From home, you can apply heat or ice and take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If your pain is more severe, your doctor might recommend a stronger pain medication that requires a prescription. Cervical collars can also be worn around your neck if your doctor feels that temporary immobilization and support are needed for your neck to properly heal.
You can also visit a physical therapist, chiropractor, or osteopathic doctor who specializes in manual therapy. This kind of therapy relieves neck pain through massage, mobilization, and manipulation.
Chronic Neck Pain
If your neck pain is more long-lasting, it can still be treated through the same measures as acute neck pain. However, many people who experience chronic pain may become depressed or develop a drug dependence. If this is the case, your doctor might also prescribe an antidepressant or recommend that you attend counseling to aid in your recovery.
In rare cases, neck pain and its source can only be fixed using surgical measures. This will be a decision made by your doctor and is usually only a last resort if all other options have been exhausted without any success or relief.
If you experience neck pain frequently, you might be unknowingly doing some things that are causing or prolonging your pain. Here are some things you can do to minimize your risk of developing pain in the future:
- Avoid slouching and don’t sit for long periods of time without changing positions and taking short breaks to stretch your muscles.
- Adjust your computer monitor so that your screen is at eye level.
- Don’t talk on the phone by cradling it on your shoulder; use a headset or speaker phone instead.
- When driving, make sure that the position of your car seat is in an upright position that supports your head. You should not feel like you are reaching for the steering wheel.
- When lifting, use your knees instead of your back.
- When sleeping, use a pillow that supports your neck. Don’t sleep on your stomach with your neck twisted.
- If your pain is caused by stress, try some relaxation exercises once a day or look into getting a professional massage.
- Strengthen your muscles by doing neck exercises.
- Maintain a healthy of body weight.
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