Our neck comprises soft tissues including muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. There is a spine that runs down at the back, and the air pipe at the front.
A general discomfort in the neck area and stiffness in the neck muscles can be referred to as neck pain. The pain may spread out to the shoulder, out into the arms, the hands or up into the head, causing a one-sided or a double-sided headache. The muscles in the neck are likely to be tense, sore and feel hard to the touch.
A neck pain generally occurs due to a muscle strain or other soft tissues like ligaments and tendons sprain. The injury could be a result of a sudden force such as whiplash which might take place during a car accident, or maybe from straining the neck. The neck can get strained even by carrying a heavy suitcase or even from sleeping in the wrong position.
- Common Causes Of Neck Pain
- What Does Neck Pain Indicate?
- So Does It Mean That Neck Pain Is A Sign Of Cancer?
- Treatment And Ways To Ease Neck Pain
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
Muscle strains: If you are hunched over your computer or smartphone for long hours, the overuse or exertion often triggers muscle strains. Minor acts like reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
Injuries: If by any chance the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck often results in whiplash injury.
Nerve compression: Bone spurs can press on the nerves.
Worn out joints: Your neck joints are just like the other joints in your body that also tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between your vertebrae to deteriorate.
Diseases: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer can also cause neck pain.
What Does Neck Pain Indicate?
The muscles in the neck tend to be edgy, painful and sense hard to the touch. Acute pain can give rise to abnormal neck posture where your head is forced to turn to one side, known as torticollis.
There could be a twinge at the bottom of the skull along with a feeling of weakness in the shoulders and arms. It is very rare that neck pain is caused by a serious illness. The pain will often disappear within a week. It is only in some cases that neck pain may be a symptom of meningitis.
However, a painless lump on your neck that does not disappear within a span of 3-6 weeks could be a sign of cancer. Cancer in the mouth or throat can spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. You may also experience pain and numbness in the head and neck region followed by difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
So Does It Mean That Neck Pain Is A Sign Of Cancer?
Not always. Let's quickly take a look at the signs and symptoms that could relate to cancer:
• The most common symptom is swelling or a sore that does not heal.
• A patch in the mouth of red or white colour.
• Lump, bump or mass with or without pain in the head or neck area.
• A sore throat that is persistent.
• A foul odour in the mouth not explained by hygiene.
• A sudden change in voice.
• Continual nasal congestion.
Treatment And Ways To Ease Neck Pain
In case you don't have any of the above symptoms related to cancer, the cause of your neck pain should be something else. Generally, neck pain is associated with poor posture combined with age-related wear and tear. Try to stay as active as possible. Bed rest isn't necessary; just try to go to work and keep up your normal everyday activities.
Try to improve your posture, take frequent breaks, and adjust your desk, chair, and computer. Make use of a headset or a speaker for talking, quit smoking, avoid carrying heavy bags with straps over your shoulder and last but not the least sleep in a good position.
It has been observed that usually mild to moderate neck pain responds well to self-care within two or three weeks. Also, there are many therapies available which can be worth trying if recommended by your doctor like physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), traction and short-term immobilization. There are alternative treatments also available like acupuncture, chiropractic or massage for your neck pain.
The usual sharp, shooting or stabbing neck pains could be a false alarm and usually not a reason to worry most of the times. Neck stiffness is another problem that raises a false alarm. Neck stiffness is not dangerous and is usually just a diffuse pain of the musculoskeletal system.
We should not worry too much if there is a neck pain. It just leads to a dent in our mental well-being along the pain altering the physical well-being, thus affecting our overall health. The causes that are most worrisome of neck pain will rarely ever cause severe pain. The neck pain which seems to be ominous is just 1% and can be treated, which includes cancer, autoimmune disease or spinal cord damage.
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