seldom an opportunity to relax the area and alleviate the pain with medication or other means, so by the end of the day, one often has even more neck pain and a headache, too. What are the causes of neck pain and how can doctors help patients find relief?
What may cause neck pain?
In many cases, neck pain is caused by an event such as whiplash, car accident, or contact sports. The pain can also result from health conditions like degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, polymyalgia or a pinched nerve. Each of these conditions or events affects the neck in different ways, but all have a common symptom: Pain.
In some cases neck injury and pain can be prevented by using preventive measures such as neck strengthening exercises and wearing protective gear. This is especially true in sports like football, race car driving, and rode events.
What are the symptoms?
Often the symptoms are described as a dull ache that never abates or a sharp pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulders and back. The pain may worsen with movement. Conversely, certain movements may actually help alleviate the pain; however briefly. A patient may experience numbness, tingling in extremities, tenderness in the neck muscles and cervical vertebrae. Some patients report headaches and shoulder pain that may or may not be associated with pinched nerves between the discs and pads of the cervical spine.
How does a doctor diagnose the pain?
The doctor will ask about the history of the pain, including any precursors such as an accident or illness, or other neurological conditions. She will then ask questions to understand where the pain is located, the intensity of the pain involved, and duration of the pain and whether the pain radiates to other parts of the body. She will ask the patient what movements seem to aggravate the pain most and what movements seem to stop or at least mitigate the pain.
She will then perform a physical examination that will include palpating the neck to check for tenderness, she will note painful response to movement and note the mechanics of the neck. Additional tests may include x-ray, CAT scam, MRI, and EMG.
What are the treatments available to help?
Once the doctor is able to discover the cause and source of the pain, treatment may begin. In most cases doctors prefer a combination of medical and home remedies that are carefully monitored to see what works well.
Medically, the doctor will prescribe rest, heat/cold applications, traction that may include a soft collar and physical therapy that may include ultrasound, massage, and manipulation. For particularly severe