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How To Treat Neck And Back Pain

How To Soothe A Sore Neck

Back and Neck Exercises to Treat Pain

Neck pain essentials include icing and heat, gentle therapeutic exercise, and good posture.

Sore neck? It’s pretty common. And most men get neck pain for the same reasons they suffer low back pain. “In the vast majority of people, it’s routine muscle strain and sprain,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “The neck has to support that heavy bowling ball on top.”

The remedies for neck and back pain also have some things in common. First, ease the early intense pain with rest, ice, and heat then move on to gentle stretching and strengthening exercises. Later, avoid bad posture and other habits that could trigger another neck pain crisis.

What Specialties Of Doctors Treat Neck Pain

Doctors who treat neck pain can include general medicine physicians, including family medicine doctors and internists, as well as orthopedists, rheumatologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, ENT specialists, emergency physicians, physiatrists, and chiropractors. Other ancillary health professionals who treat neck pain include physical therapists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.

How To Relieve Back And Neck Pain

Neck and back pain can restrict your mobility and capacity. If you don’t do anything about your pains, they can get worse, spread, and further restrict you. This usually is because your muscles have tensed around your immediate pain area to protect that spot. Such enlargement decreases mobility and can turn a closed muscle under the shoulder blade painful. You must contact the best doctors for back pain.

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When To See A Doctor

Most simple back pain will start to improve within a day or two of restricted activity and over-the-counter medication. If you find yourself taking more and more pills to relieve back pain, or if the pain is getting worse, you’ll want to contact a back specialist. After a thorough medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests a doctor may be able to determine if there is a specific cause of your pain and will recommend appropriate treatments.

Not all chronic pain is treatable. Pain management is an integrated approach to making pain tolerable by learning physical, emotional, intellectual and social skills. This may include exercise, physical therapy, medication, relaxation, acupuncture, behavior changes, biofeedback, hypnosis, and counseling. When you use pain management techniques, you stay in control of your own health. These techniques also help the brain produce it’s own pain medications called endorphins, which literally means “morphine within” .

What Are Neck Pain Symptoms

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Other than neck pain itself, you may notice other symptoms that accompany the pain. Some of the more common symptoms of neck pain include:

  • Neck muscle stiffness: Tight muscles in the back of the head or a muscle knot in the neck. This may spread to your shoulders, upper back and arms.
  • Headache: Experiencing headaches in the occipital region is very common but can also extend to the top of the head, causing “tension” headaches from muscle tightness.
  • Pain and/or weakness that shoots down the arm: This may be caused by muscle fatigue or nerve compression. Very often along specific nerve roots .
  • Loss of neck mobility: Inability to turn your head and neck easily.
  • Paraesthesias: A sensation of numbness and/or tingling in the arms, most often caused by nerve compression at the level of the spine, or as the branching nerves pass through tight, inflamed muscles.

If your neck pain is caused by nerve compression, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Weakness in the shoulder, arm or hand
  • A feeling of numbness or pins and needles in arm, fingers or hand
  • Sharp, burning pain near the pinched nerve that radiates outward

Some conditions, such as coronary artery disease or even lung tumors may mimic these conditions, notes Stewart G. Eidelson, MD. It is best to have a skilled physician perform a thorough physical examination when the symptoms described are present, he says.

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Get Moving But Carefully

  • Ease back into your normal daily activities as soon as you can. Movement helps your muscles stay strong.
  • Avoid activities such as lifting and sports that make pain and stiffness worse.
  • Do stretching and strengthening to keep your neck flexible and strong and prevent stiffness.
  • Avoid or change any activities that may be causing your neck pain, such as sitting for a long time at the computer or doing too much overhead work at a time.
  • Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Don’t massage the injured area if it causes pain. Nonprescription creams or gels, such as Bengay, may provide pain relief.

What Is Neck Pain

Neck pain is the worst kind of overachiever. It’s so common that it’s the fourth-leading cause of disability globally, following ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection. Nearly 30 percent experience it each year.

And it’s not always centralized in the neck. It can radiate across your whole upper body, affecting your shoulders, arms and chest and can even cause headaches. Living with neck pain can be miserable, making it hard to focus and get through the day.

Neck pain can be debilitating and may interfere with day-to-day life, including your ability to sleep, feel productive, and enjoy time with friends and family. And it affects more than just your physical body. Studies have shown that chronic pain can have an impact on a persons mental health up to 85 percent of patients with chronic pain are affected by severe depression.

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Other Causes Of Neck Pain When You Wake Up

There are certainly other causes that can also contribute to you waking up with neck pain. In some cases, you may develop a sore neck during the day, too. Some common causes of neck pain include:

  • poor posture during the day
  • working too long at a computer, or watching television for too long without changing positions
  • osteoarthritis in one of the upper spinal joints
  • nerve compression caused by a herniated disk or bone spur in your neck

What Is Back And Neck Pain

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Back pain can range from a mild, dull, annoying ache to persistent, severe, disabling pain. Pain in your back can limit your ability to move. It can interfere with normal functioning and quality of life. Always talk with your healthcare provider if you have persistent pain.

Neck pain occurs in the area of the cervical vertebrae in your neck. Because of its location and range of motion, your neck is often left unprotected and at risk for injury.

Pain in your back or neck area can come on suddenly and intensely. Chronic pain lasts for weeks, months, or even years. The pain can be constant or come and go.

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Hot Cold And Electrotherapy

Heating pads, ice or cold packs, and electrotherapy are natural ways to get relief from neck and shoulder pain. A general rule of thumb suggests choosing different therapies based on how long youve been experiencing pain.

Use cold for recent neck or shoulder pain

During the first six weeks after a fresh injury, experts recommend applying ice to help reduce inflammation and pain. Ice packs, cold sprays, and/or cold gels are great options to relieve acute swelling.

Use heat for chronic aches and pains

Heat encourages blood flow and helps relax tight muscles. This type of therapy can be introduced six weeks after an injury, and also works best for lingering aches and pains. Make sure your heat therapy isnt too hot. Try:

  • Heating pads
  • Warm baths, whirlpools and saunas
  • Warm baths with Epsom salts

Try electrotherapy for short and long-term neck and shoulder pain

TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, is a drug-free alternative to pain relief that works for both short- and long-term pain. TENS units use mild, pain-free electrical currents to disrupt pain signals.

Make sure you dont place the TENS unit pads too close to your head or sides of your neck and spine. Please follow the manufacturers directions for the best and safest pad placement.

Rotate Your Head To Alleviate Back Pain

Now its time to make a complete circle, starting in the initial position. If your back curves or neck shifts, harmful pressure will be applied to your cervical spine.

  • Start rotating from the right and make sure that when you complete a rotation, your chin is touching your chest.
  • Complete five rotations and start again, this time from your left side.

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What Are Possible Complications Of Neck And Back Pain

Complications of back and neck pain may include:

  • Loss of productivity. Back pain is the most common reason for disability in working adults.
  • Nerve damage. If your back pain is from a herniated disk, pressure on the spinal nerves may cause a variety of problems, such as weakness, numbness, or severe shooting pain that travels from the back to the leg.
  • Depression. Back or neck pain can disrupt all aspects of life. This includes work, physical exercise, social activities, and sleep. The anxiety and stress caused by the change in movement and pain can lead to depression.
  • Weight gain. Loss of movement and inability to exercise can lead to weight gain and the loss of muscle strength.

It is a good idea to see a healthcare provider if you have numbness or tingling, or if your pain is severe and does not get better with medicine and rest. If you have trouble urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, call your healthcare provider right away.

How Are Back And Neck Pain Treated

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If you experience acute back or neck pain, it may simply improve with some rest. Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may also help with the discomfort. You should try to move gently during this period, so that you will not become stiff and lose mobility.

If you have chronic pain of your back and neck, you should try several remedies that may be helpful, before seeking surgical options. These include:

  • Hot or cold packs

  • Specific exercises to strengthen muscles and ease pain, such as stretching and flexing. Your health care provider can provide and demonstrate these exercises.

  • Aerobic exercise may be permitted and can help with your overall fitness and strength

  • Certain anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants may be used, with your health care providers supervision

  • Braces or corsets for extra support

  • Injections for pain relief in the area

  • Nerve block, which decreases pain signals from the affected nerve

  • Acupuncture

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Treatment Of Pressure In Back Of Head And Neck

There are things you can do at home to ease the pain and start feeling better. Heres how to reduce pressure in back of head and neck:

1. Pain-relieving medications

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are available at the store and provide relief from headaches. Combining two or more drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen with caffeine into one drug for some people may be more effective than one drug. Prescription drugs such as ketoprofen and more potent naproxen can be used to treat severe headaches.

2. Use an ice pack

Cold therapy reduces blood flow and reduces muscle spasms and inflammation, reducing pain. A cold pack placed on the forehead, temple, or neck may be useful when treating neck pain and headaches. People who have migraines may find ice packs to be cheaper than hot packs. When using a cold treatment, limit the use to 15 minutes and at least 2 hours of rest between applications to prevent skin damage.

3. Maintain good posture

Spending an hour a day at a desk or on a computer with a head position puts extra stress on the muscles and joints of the neck. This bad posture can eventually lead to neck pain or headaches. Instead, place the head in a neutral position with the ears directly above the shoulders and waist, which normally aligns the head to the cervical spine. In addition to maintaining a good posture, try to take breaks from sitting and exercising as often as you can.

4. Find the right pillow

5. Exercise more

Is It Possible To Prevent Neck Pain

Neck pain can really only be prevented by avoiding injury to the neck. This would include minimizing the risks of injury during sports activities. Athletes who participate in collision sports can prevent neck injury with appropriate equipment, neck strengthening exercises, and occasional neck bracing.

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What Causes Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by activities that strain the neck. Slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with your neck twisted are some things that can cause neck pain. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a sprain, or a spasm of the neck muscles.

Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. A fall from a ladder or from a car accident can cause neck pain. Some less common medical problems can also lead to neck pain, such as:

  • An infection in the neck.

Sometimes, neck pain may not have a clear cause.

What Do I Need To Know About Neck Anatomy

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You dont need to memorize the physiology and anatomy of your neck to improve its function and reduce pain, but its helpful to have a general understanding of your cervical spine.

Neck mobility is matchless. Although you wont get any Exorcist-style head spinning, it is capable of moving the head in many directions: 90° of flexion , 90° of extension , 180° of rotation , and almost 120° of tilt to either shoulder.

But all that mobility comes at the cost of complexity. First youve got your seven vertebrae , each cushioned by an intervertebral disc and connected by facet joints. There are also 32 muscles, plus the tendons that attach them to bones, that help move and stabilize the neck, as well as a number of ligaments attaching bones to each other. Thats a lot of action in a comparatively small area.

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What Happens After Traction

If youre treated with traction, youll probably need to participate in an inpatient or an outpatient treatment program. These programs often consist of physical and occupational therapy to help you regain your strength and relearn skills that may have been affected by your injury. A therapist can also teach you new skills to compensate for any pain, weakness, or paralysis you may have experienced as a result of being injured.

The first few days after traction is performed can be difficult. The muscles are often weak since you must spend a lot of time in bed after traction is performed. Moving around and walking may be challenging and can make you tired. However, its important to stick with any rehabilitation program so that you can improve your chances of making a complete recovery.

There are risks involved in all surgical procedures. These risks include:

  • an adverse reaction to the anesthesia
  • excessive bleeding
  • an infection of the pin site
  • damage to the surrounding tissue
  • nerve injury or vascular injury from too much weight being applied

Its important to contact your doctor if:

  • the prescribed medications arent relieving your pain
  • the skin around the pin site becomes red, hot, or swollen
  • theres drainage

When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

See your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control with weakness in either leg. These symptoms need attention right away.
  • Severe back or neck pain that does not decrease with medicine and rest
  • Pain after an injury or a fall
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your legs or arms
  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider
  • Unintentional weight loss

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The Universal Guide To Neck Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts

In This Article:What Is Neck Pain? | Neck Anatomy | Causes | Types | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Nonsurgical Treatments | Surgery Options | Living With |

A pain-free neck is a lot like the carefree days of our youth we dont appreciate it til its gone. Neck pain can make life feel pretty unbearable and affect your social life, family time, hobbies and even work productivity.

If youre reading this, chances are youre familiar with neck pain. Whether youve just woken up with a whopper of a crick in your neck, sustained an injury or have been dealing with chronic neck pain, this handy guide can help you understand the anatomy of your cervical spine, different causes and types of neck pain, and learn more about the common treatments for neck pain.

Although neck pain is commonly caused by strain, prolonged pain may be an indication of something more serious. Photo Source: 123RF.com.

How Is The Neck Structured

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Your neck and back are made up of small bones called vertebrae. These are stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column.

The spinal column supports your head and protects the spinal cord. This is the main structure which links the network of nerves throughout your body. Messages travel along this network sending sensations, such as pain, to your brain.

The top seven bones in the spinal column form your neck, and these are called the cervical vertebrae. The bones are linked together by facet joints. These are small joints between your vertebrae that, together with your neck muscles, allow you to move your head in any direction.

Between the vertebrae are discs of cartilage. The discs act as shock absorbers and give the spine its flexibility. A slipped disc occurs when one of these discs slips slightly out of its natural position in the spine.

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