The neck consists of neck muscles, thyroid glands, essential arteries supplying the face and brain, veins, trachea, and lymph nodes. These structures, as a whole, make up the human being’s neck. Everyone at some point in life has gone through chronic neck pain; one usually avoids it as excessive.
Chronic neck pains can originate for a certain reason. Some sports, motor vehicle accidents, or risky body movements can aggravate chronic neck pain. We’ll be discussing some forms of chronic neck pains in this article. It will help you better understand your neck pain and how to manage it.
Is Acupuncture Effective to Treat Chronic Neck Pain?
Acupuncture is a treatment that originated in China by inserting needles that increase circulation, reduce inflammation and promote relaxation. Points demanding stimulation are determined before acupuncture. Although studies have no strong base for treating chronic neck pain with acupuncture, many have benefitted from this mode of treatment too.
What Causes Chronic Neck Pain?
A neck pain that lasts more than three months may give you a hint of a more serious cause than strain in the neck. Persistent neck pains can be due to discs, nerves, facets, or spine vertebrae.
Chronic neck pains may also radiate to the face, shoulder, or throughout the body. Moreover, aging and overuse of neck joints may cause chronic neck pain.
Certain medical conditions can also lead to chronic neck pain and injuries. For example, osteoporosis, a bony disorder, may lead to neck pain and fractures due to inadequate neck support.
Similarly, rheumatoid arthritis, which causes swelling in bones and joints, may also aggravate the symptoms. Infections such as meningitis may also cause stiffness of neck muscles.
Diagnosing Chronic Neck Pain
When you visit your doctor for treatment of chronic neck pain, they will do an excellent medical history and examination. Investigation for tenderness, muscle weakness, and numbness is included in the process.
Extension of the head forward, backward, and to the sides may also be examined. Examinations may include imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. These would guide you about bony spurs or changes in the neck and cross-sectional views of structures within the neck.
In addition, imaging helps understand and determine the cause of pain and treat them accordingly.
How To Treat Chronic Neck Pain?
If the neck pain that you are experiencing continues for more than two weeks, you must seek medical advice. Treatment for chronic neck pain may vary as per the cause of the pain. For some patients, a single line of treatment works, while certain may require a combination of therapies.
Read below some treatment lines for chronic neck pain.
Non-Surgical Line of Treatment
Non-surgical line of management for chronic neck pain includes several medical therapies. Over-the-counter (OTC), as well as prescription medicines, go along in the reduction of inflammation and muscle spasms over time.
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, maybe the first drug of choice for pain management. one can take these medicines orally, or topical application in the gel form on the affected area may also work.
NSAID gels like Voltral or Aspercreme, including ice or heat treatment, may do wonders. Muscle relaxants are preferred for acute pain rather than chronic pain. But, if you use medicines to treat chronic neck pain, do as your doctor prescribes.
In case of any side effects, one has to report to the doctor immediately. In addition, some pains may require treatment with the help of opioids, which may lead to dependence.
Interventional line of Treatment
Intervention may include injections to reduce pain and inflammation of the affected joints or nerves. Injections may require epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, and radio ablation of the area.
In certain cases, botox is also used to reduce pain; although research is few in its favor, it has shown effective results.
Whereas neuropathic pain is concerned, it may require steroids and a painkiller injection in conjugation. Physical therapy of the affected area also helps relieve the pain. Moreover, ablation therapy is also used in severe cases to relieve pain.
What is the Best Pillow for Chronic Neck Pain?
There are certain OTC and prescribed treatments for chronic neck pain management we’ve discussed above. But pillow support is equally important for such patients.
Some people prefer sleeping on their sides so that they may develop pain due to a lack of support from their pillows. We’ve discussed a few factors to be noticed when purchasing a new pillow.
Fill and Firmness
Experts agree that supportive pillows play a vital role in aggravating neck pain. The firm your pillow is, the more you may develop neck pain. The best pillow is one that provides the best support when you lay in your bed to sleep.
Medium-firm pillows cradle the head and keep you in a relaxed and neutral position while asleep. Consideration of your bed type, way of sleeping, and head weight are the main factors to focus on.
The type of pillow fill also affects the firmness of your pillow. Latex, memory foam, and wool provide a firm surface, while on the other hand, poly-fill and feather-fill are more towards the softer side.
Neck pillows are available in different sizes and shapes in the market. These range from rectangular to specialized ones that support neck pain in a certain way. The cervical curvature tends to be more C-shaped; cervical or cylinder-shaped pillows only nestle into the cervical curvature.
Orthopedic pillows available in stores provide more detailed shapes and contours per the spine’s curvature. It helps align the spine with the neck and head and tackles specific pressure points and alignment concerns.
The height of your pillow has a critical factor. Ideally, the neck should never alleviate above your spine. To avoid chronic neck pains, avoid lofty pillows.
This ensures that the head is not at an uncomfortable angle. When you get your hands on a pillow, look for the one that aligns your neck with your spine. A medium loft of up to three to five inches works fine.
Neck pain usually goes away in a few days or weeks, but if the pain persists, it could be an alarm of any underlying medical condition. If you suffer from chronic neck pain, a short consultation with a doctor about possible treatment outcomes may be the first step. Early intervention may be necessary for the best results.
If your sleeping position is aggravating, a pillow that helps align your neck and spine may be necessary. Chronic neck pain is usually associated with social, anatomic, and professional characteristics. Proper examination and timely and adequate treatment are essential for chronic neck pain. Visit evepacifichealth to learn more.