Neck pain is often due to overuse of the muscles and ligaments in the neck, but it may also be due to stress, trauma, injury, or illness. It is characterized by tightness, a knot, or severe pain in the neck and upper back. Neck pain can be acute or chronic.
Acute Neck Pain- Acute neck pain is often due to daily activities such as poor posture, sitting all day, looking at a television or computer screen for long periods of time, or sleeping in the wrong position. Sudden onset of severe neck pain may be due to trauma to the bone or nerve structures in the neck. Sometimes acute trauma leads to chronic neck pain.
Chronic Neck Pain- Chronic neck pain occurs when the pain in the neck lasts greater than two to three weeks. If you have chronic neck pain, it’s important to see your physician for an evaluation. You may need diagnostic studies such as an x-ray, CT scan or MRI to rule out serious injuries that can lead to permanent damage.
Some medical conditions that cause neck pain include:
- Cervical disc herniation
- Degenerative disc disease
- Pinched nerve
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal tumor
- Spinal infection
Home remedies for neck pain include:
- Take anti inflammatory medication (Ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin) to decrease inflammation and Tylenol (acetaminophen) for pain relief
- Apply ice to the area for the first 48-72 hours to decrease the initial inflammation and swelling, then after that apply heat (warm compresses or heating pad) to increase blood flow and speed healing
- Reduce activity level to allow time for healing, but avoid extended periods of inactivity which can prolong recovery
If your neck pain persists for longer than 5-7 days, contact your physician for an evaluation.