Neck Pain can cause severe discomfort and interference in daily life. Neck pain is becoming increasingly common as more and more people lead a sedentary lifestyle, chained to their desks, staring at laptops for prolonged periods of time.  When it comes to neck pain, the cases are mostly mild and can be treated at home.

However, some underlying health conditions might lead the neck pain to be painful and recurring, while in the case of accidents and sudden impacts it might require immediate medical attention and care.

What Are Some of the Common Neck Injuries?

Neck pain can be manifested as a consequence of different injuries like:

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 discs begin to leak, causing the gel-like substance to impinge on a nerve that leads to irritation. This herniated disk can happen near the neck muscles, causing discomfort and pain. 

Neck Strain

If your laptop screen is not at your eye level, or if you spend prolonged hours looking at your screen with your head pointing down, then you are at the risk of developing neck strain. It can manifest itself in the form of soreness and tightness near the neck muscles. 

Neck Sprain

An accident can lead to a bad fall, or a sudden halt while driving can give a jerk to the neck. This may lead to the ligaments near your muscle being torn, or a tendon may be strained and bruised. 

Pinched Nerve

A bone spur or abnormal growth can sometimes push against surrounding nerves causing pain. This happens because of a muscle sprain or a strain that causes irritation near the nerves surrounding the neck muscles. 

Whiplash

Sometimes an accident may cause repetitive, intense, and violent to and fro movement that may lead to 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. It 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 may lead to headaches, dizziness, and limited range of motion in the neck. 
Auto-Immune Disorders

Some auto-immune disorders manifest themselves in the form of severe neck pain and medical attention may be required to correctly diagnose the particular disease one is suffering from.

Also Read: 11 Neck Pain Treatment Options

When to See a Doctor for Neck Pain?

In some cases, calling a doctor is the most obvious choice. If you have just been involved in a traumatic accident, fall, or head injury you need immediate medical attention. However, in cases of a mild injury, a visit to a doctor’s office may be unnecessary. However, it is quite complex to discern when or when not to consult with a doctor.

If you play contact sports or are heavily involved in an occupation that requires overuse of your neck muscles, you might be facing chronic and recurrent pain. A doctor’s consultation may be necessary for these situations if this symptom keeps getting worse every day. There are various kinds of specialists that you can see for specific pain symptoms, and these are the indicators that might require immediate medical attention in regards to your neck pain- 

  • Interferes with your daily activities 
  • Keeps you awake at night for longer periods of time 
  • Gets worse despite at-home treatment and initial therapeutic techniques 
  • Numbness and tingling in parts of the body 
  • Incontinence (urinary and/or bowel) 
  • High fever and chills 
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness 
  • A rash all over the neck and in the surrounding areas 
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Pain in the jaw and the chest

Are Specialists Required for Neck Pain?

If your neck pain manifests with the symptoms listed above, then any emergency medicine doctor on call will be competent enough to provide emergency and primary care. However, in case you are suffering from chronic neck pain and symptoms and other pre-existing conditions, then visiting a specialist would be recommended, and they can directly target the problem and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan to help your symptoms. Usually, an orthopedist or neurologist can help either with muscular-skeletal issues underlying your neck pain, or neurological issues surrounding your neck pain. 

Visit an orthopedic if: 

  • There’s a grinding, crunching, popping in the bones near the neck
  • Preliminary therapeutic treatments are not providing any help 
  • X-rays indicate a bone spur or abnormal growth
  • You have a herniated or bulging disk 

Visit a neurologist if:

  • If you have cases of brain fog and fatigue 
  • If you feel a tingling sensation 
  • If you feel numbness in your hands and legs 
  • If you suffer from incontinence 
  • If you have radiating and shooting pains 

Also Read: When Does Back Pain or Neck Pain Become an Emergency?

Once you and your doctors have accurately diagnosed the problem, it is imperative to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that will provide short-term pain relief and will also help with long-term pain prevention. Physiotherapy for neck pain is one of those options that are available and is drug-free and non-invasive. Physiotherapy can equip you with pain management techniques and exercises that you can perform from the comfort of your own home.

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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