According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, chronic pain afflicts almost one-third the US population. That’s more than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined. Sadly, 60 percent of Americans don’t report experiencing chronic pain to their doctors. This may be due to the fact that one of the most common types of chronic pain, neck pain, is not clearly understood.
Common Causes of Neck Injury
One of the easiest ways to injure your back is sitting. If your job requires you to use a computer, and your terminal is positioned at an odd angle, you may frequently find yourself leaving work with a stiff and pained neck. You can also wake up with neck pain if you sleep in an awkward position. You can also hurt your neck by spending long, uninterrupted periods watching TV, reading or using a smartphone or tablet. Conversely, it’s common for weekend warriors who bike, play ball, lift weights or run to end up with strained muscles and sprained ligaments.
Common Types of Neck Pain & Injury
Whiplash: Most commonly the result of a car accident, whiplash refers to soft tissue damage caused by the neck being forced beyond its normal range of motion. It can also be caused by sports-related collisions, such as being tackled in a football game. Whiplash symptoms include neck pain, tenderness, muscle spasms, headaches, restricted range of motion and shooting pains.
Cervical Dystonia: Also known as spasmodic torticollis, cervical dystonia refers to a condition wherein two opposing neck muscles contract at the same time. This painful contraction causes sufferers to experience uncontrolled twisting neck spasms. It also causes the afflicted to contort their head and neck into awkward positions. While this condition can be genetic in nature, it can also be caused by trauma or allergic reaction.
Cervical Radiculopathy: This condition is characterized by an irritation of the nerves caused by a ruptured or destructed disc within the cervical spine. Although cervical radiculopathy can be caused by age-related wear-and-tear, it can also be the result of traumatic injury. Its symptoms include radiating numbness and tingling, acute neck pain and weakness throughout the upper body, particularly the neck, shoulders, chest, arms and hands.
Preventing Neck Pain & Injury
Although the above-listed conditions can only be properly diagnosed treated by a certified medical professional, there are certain things you can do to prevent against neck injury and ease neck pain.
Stretching before you engage in rigorous activity will help keep your body loose, limber and better able to deal with sudden impacts. Stretching can also relieve the pain of a stiff and sore neck. Also, if it’s been more than six months since you last replaced your pillow, purchasing a new memory foam or feather pillow might relieve your morning neck pain. Icing and heating your neck, getting a message and taking a temporary break from sports are all effective and easy ways to treat neck pain.
To find out more about neck pain and neck injuries, check out to the latest episode of Inside Sports Medicine with Dr. Jeff Pierce. If you’ve recently suffered a neck injury, the experts at the Michigan Sports & Spine Center can help resolve your pain.