Neck pain is a common problem that is usually related to muscle tension caused by situations such as excessive stress, sleeping in an awkward position or using the computer for a long time, for example.
However, neck pain may also have more serious causes, such as spinal diseases, herniated discs, or infections such as tonsillitis, osteomyelitis, or meningitis.
When neck pain lasts longer than 1 week or does not improve when you apply warm patches and the use of painkillers, such as Paracetamol, it is recommended you make an appointment with an orthopedist to initiate appropriate treatment.
1. Muscle tension
If you maintain an incorrect posture for long periods of time, such as when you are reading, or using the computer, or even sleeping in the wrong position can cause muscle tension. In addition, muscle tension can also be caused by bruxism, which consists of grinding your teeth during sleep, causing a weight sensation from the neck to the ear.
What to do: It can be relieved by putting hot patches on the area with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, adopting more appropriate body postures, using exercises to strengthen the neck muscles and rest. In cases of bruxism, it can be treated with the use of a specific denture, recommended by a dentist.
Usually the torticollis, also known as wry neck happens at night. The person wakes up the next day with difficulty in moving the neck, but it can also happen by turning the neck to look to the side very quickly, which can cause a muscle spasm. In torticollis it is easy to identify the location of the pain and only one side is affected.
What to do: Placing a warm patch and letting it act for 15 to 20 minutes may help relieve pain.
Spinal osteoarthritis, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine or spondylarthrosis, consists of the cartilage present in the spinal joints wearing down, causing symptoms such as pain and difficulty in moving your back.
What to do: Arthrosis has no cure, but can be treated with medication such as painkillers such as Paracetamol, Opioids, such as Tramadol, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ketoprofen or Ibuprofen in pill or ointment form or even Glucosamine Sulfate or Chondroitin sulfate, which are dietary supplements that help regenerate cartilage.
4. Cervical disc herniation
Cervical disc herniation consists in the displacement of part of the intervertebral disc, which is the region between the two vertebrae, most often caused by spinal wearing and poor posture.
One of the main symptoms of cervical disc herniation is pain in the neck, which can spread to the shoulders, arms and hands, and cause tingling sensation and numbness. In addition, in more severe cases there may also be a decrease in muscle strength and difficulty in moving the neck.
What to do: Symptoms can be relieved by placing hot patches over the painful region by doing relaxing massages of the neck muscles and treatment can be done with pain relieving medication such as acetaminophen and muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine. Although it is still important to correct your posture to try to reduce the compression on the roots of the nerves and to do stretches to improve the movements of the neck.
5. After an accident
Neck trauma can happen after an accident, when the soft tissue in the neck are stretched too much, and the head is pushed back and fourth.
What to do: the doctor can prescribe strong painkillers, as well as muscle relaxants to help alleviate pain and ir may also be necessary to resort to phsiotherapy.
6. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes symptoms like joint pain and has no cure. However, when treatments are done correctly, they can help to improve the quality of life, reducing the symptoms and avoiding the worsening of the disease.
What to do: You can choose to do a natural treatment with the use of plants such as horsetail or aubergine with lemon, or with anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or celecoxib, corticosteroids such as prednisolone or immunosuppressants such as methotrexate or leflunomide. Treatment with physical therapy is a great way to decrease pain, inflammation and improve movements in the affected joint.
Meningitis is a severe inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes lining the brain and spinal cord. Usually, this disease is caused by viruses or bacteria, and may appear after a badly healed flu, for example, but in some cases it can also be caused by strong strokes or fungi, especially when the immune system is weakened. One of the most common symptoms in meningitis is neck stiffness with intense pain and difficulty in bringing the chin to the chest.
What to do: The treatment of meningitis depends on its cause, and can be treated with antibiotics, anti-viral medication or corticosteroidsin a hospital setting.
The appearance of a lump in the neck, in more severe cases, may indicate the presence of cancer. Especially if associated with the appearance of the lump are other symptoms such as neck pain, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, frequent choking, loss weight and general malaise.
What to do: In the presence of these symptoms you should go to the doctor as soon as possible, so that the doctor can confirm the diagnosis through ultrasound examinations and indicate the best treatment. See more about what a swollen lymph node in the neck can indicate.