When we talk about neck injuries, we often refer to mild symptoms that cause a stiff or a sore neck, or a sharp and radiating pain that interferes with our mood and daily routine. Most cases related to neck pain can be solved easily with self-care therapy techniques and medication, but in some cases, neck pain can be a symbol of bigger and more serious issues.
In cases where you had a major fall, an injury, or an accident, the neck pain may be severe and requires immediate medical attention, surgery, and a dedicated treatment plan. However, for common neck injuries, the treatment is less complex and most of the time is an easy fix.
What Kind of Neck Injuries Can Be Termed as Common?
Most of the time neck injuries that are mild are caused due to lifestyle reasons. If your neck is sore and tight, it is probably because of a bad sleeping position, lack of exercise, or staring at a screen for long hours. This pain makes simple tasks a bit complicated, whether it is doing something as basic as turning your head or lifting something.
What Are the Common Types of Neck Injuries?
Herniated or Bulging Disc
Our spine is made of tiny vertebrae which have a cushion-like fluid-filled material called discs which act as shock absorbers. Due to an injury or fall, these disks begin to leak causing the gel-like substance to impinge on a nerve, thus causing irritation. This herniated disc can happen near the neck muscles and cause discomfort and pain.
If your laptop screen is not at your eye level, or if you spend prolonged hours looking at your screen with your head tilted down, you are at the risk of developing neck strain. It can manifest itself in the form of soreness and tightness near the neck muscles.
Sometimes, a sudden halt may cause a jerk impact, or sometimes an accident can cause you to take a fall. This leads to the tearing of the ligaments near your muscle, or a tendon may get strained and bruised.
A bone spur or abnormal growth can sometimes push against surrounding nerves, thus causing pain. This happens because of a muscle sprain or a strain that causes irritation near the nerves surrounding the neck muscles.
Sometimes an accident may cause repetitive, intense, and violent to and fro movement that causes a neck injury, commonly known as whiplash. The soft tissues around the neck get heavily damaged, and the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons get severely affected by the trauma. Whiplash causes stiffness, headaches, dizziness, and in some cases numbness and tingling sensation.
TMJ Neck Pain
Temporomandibular joint is located near our jaw, and any pain or sudden impact that leads to this joint getting hurt can immediately manifest itself in the form of neck pain. This is because the nerves and muscles near this joint are quite near to the ones in the neck, and when injured, cause headaches, dizziness, and limited range of motion in the neck.
What Are the Symptoms That I Need to Look Out For?
Common neck injuries sometimes have overlapping injuries, however, the intensity and type may differ depending on the severity of the injury. They include:
- It might be difficult to perform basic tasks like looking above or rotating your neck because of the discomfort.
- The sharp and pervasive pain might cause headaches and dizziness.
- Due to the muscles being impacted, some people also face recurrent muscle spasms in the affected area.
- Your neck might feel sore, tensed, and stiff.
- Some areas in your body might feel numb, you might also feel a tingling sensation in some areas like your hands and feet.
What Puts Me at Risk for Developing Neck Injuries?
There are some risk factors that might put you more at risk for developing such injuries. These are:
If you are a smoker, you are more prone to degenerative diseases that affect your joints and muscles.
Your genetic history might make you be more vulnerable to developing certain diseases like auto-immune disorders where neck pain is a common symptom.
Overuse of the neck muscles if you are someone who stares at a screen already. If you are involved in some sort of a contact sport, you might be at risk for developing neck strains.
If you are someone who drives for a long amount of time, you are at a risk for developing neck injuries. The random jerks and the constant fixation of the neck can put you at risk for developing whiplash and neck sprains.
At a certain age, arthritis and other degenerative diseases are quite common. So if you are someone who is in their 60s, you are more prone to developing neck pains and injuries.
What Are the Treatment Options Available for Common Neck Injuries?
Depending on the type and severity of the treatment here are some of the treatment options that are available to you
Sometimes dietary changes can help support your body’s ability to ward off certain injuries and discomfort. If you are constantly experiencing inflammation in and around the neck, then an anti-inflammatory diet will be recommended in order to ease your body’s symptoms.
This sort of at-home method of treatment is good enough if you have mild neck pain caused due to a bad sleeping posture. It can be easily treated with ice and heat compressions. To correct your posture and ensure the correct sleeping position at night, you can change your pillows, and get supportive equipment to stop your painful neck symptoms.
Sometimes, rest is the best option for neck pain. Generally, physiotherapists and doctors recommend that exercises help restore range of motion, but in patients with overuse, proper rest is recommended so as to not agitate the affected area. Rest helps prevent further inflammation and stiffness.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For people playing contact sports or are involved in occupations that strain the neck muscles, minor injuries and strains are common. In these cases, the RICE technique works wonders. By applying ice you are reducing the inflammation if you have red bumps and inflamed areas that need care. Heat can be used to relax the muscles that are tense by encouraging blood flow to the area. You can keep the affected area risen or at an elevated position using a neck brace in order to prevent further pain, stabilize movement and accelerate the recovery process.
If you are someone who works for long hours looking at their screens, you might be getting a sore or a stiff neck after a long day at work. You can prevent this by performing easy neck stretches and range of motion exercises between breaks so as to stretch and release tension from the muscles. Stretches also help regain flexibility and with maintaining your range of motion. If you are leading a sedentary lifestyle, then incorporating more physical exercises- whether it is walking, playing a sport, dancing- helps promote muscle strength that can help keep neck pain at bay.
Physiotherapy for Neck
This is one of the most popular methods of treatment for neck pain. It is a non-invasive, drug-free, and flexible treatment option that works at the root of the problem to help with alleviating your short-term painful symptoms and also preventing neck pain in the long run. Physiotherapy for neck pain includes a diverse range of options. It also recommends some exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home so that you can work actively to prevent the manifestation of this pain in the long run. Physiotherapists also work alongside your trainer so that your workouts do not include movements that aggravate the painful symptoms.
Sometimes the neck pain is quite intensive and self-care techniques do not work to relieve the painful symptoms. This is why sometimes a doctor’s visit is necessary to help chalk out a treatment plan that contains some medications that work for you. There are also Over the Counter medications that are available without prescriptions but their effects are usually not that long-lasting. Sometimes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are provided (NSAIDs) are typically prescribed to help with short-term pain symptoms.
Sometimes, the stress of our work-life, coupled with the constant strung at the screen can make things worse for our neck pain. Therapeutic techniques like massage therapies work well to soothe our affected muscles, relieve pent-up stress in the muscles and reduce spasms. It works wonders to reduce pain and create an environment of relaxation. Make sure you get a specialized therapist to work on your target areas so you get effective treatments and visible changes after a session.
Manual Muscle Manipulation
Physiotherapy for neck pain also contains treatment options like manual therapies to help align your bones and muscles, relax the knots, and help with your posture. A visit to the chiropractor can help with your neck pain. These professionals perform spinal manipulation which is a high velocity, and they also perform mobilization techniques to help with your range of motion. After a visit to your doctor, rule out any existing health crisis that might be causing your pain before you get a chiropractor to work on your back.
Some alternative therapies like acupuncture can also help with pain management. It is an age-old process where a certified professional places thin needles in specific parts of your skin depending on your trigger point and affected muscle. For your neck pain, the professional might place the needles near the neck and in the muscles surrounding the neck to help with your stiffness and pain.
Sometimes, your neck pain may be because of poor posture. In these cases, it is recommended to support a corrective posture for long-term prevention. Physiotherapy for Neck Pain works to do exactly that. The physiotherapists identify your incorrect posture, recommend postural changes, and also provide details for the required equipment to keep your posture intact in case you are out of surgery or accident.
Yoga is an ancient and age-old ayurvedic technique that works on optimizing your breathing and helps improve flexibility. Using some of the recommended yoga poses for neck pain, one can easily relieve painful neck symptoms and promote better flexibility and range of motion. Yoga is also a great relaxing exercise where meditation and focused breathing plays a big part in reducing your pain.
How Can I Prevent Neck Injuries?
- Change your pillows, look more at a more ergonomic office setting that supports your neck and back.
- Exercise and stretch your neck regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight that helps put some pressure off the spine
- Strengthen your core and back muscles and empower them to help support your spine.
- Always exercise caution when lifting something heavy. Use the correct stance when lifting something off the ground.
Also Read: Top 10 Tips to Prevent Neck Pain
For more information about physiotherapy for neck pain, head over to Phyt Health. Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately capture your movements and recommend relevant treatment plans. On the physiotherapy app, you will find a wealth of exercises that are curated by expert physiotherapists that you can perform in the comfort of your own home.
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