Everyone knows that neck pain is uncomfortable — otherwise, why would we call an annoying person a “pain in the neck”? But what you may not know is that it’s really common, too, affecting both women and men of all ages.
At Magnolia Pain Associates, Nina Sandhu, DO helps patients in Plano, Dallas, and Corsicana, Texas learn about the source of their neck pain and what they can do to feel better. If you have neck pain, here’s what could be causing it.
Why neck pain happens
Your neck is a very flexible part of your spine, able to move in lots of different directions. In addition to the mobility demands placed on it, your neck is also tasked with supporting your head — all 10-11 pounds of it (on average).
It’s also a very complex part of your body, with bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and more all contributing to its anatomy. If any of these components is strained or injured, you can wind up with neck pain. In fact, with so many “moving parts,” it’s easy to see why neck pain is so common.
One of the most popular sources of neck pain is a habit we’re all guilty of from time to time: poor posture. Spending hours hunched over a laptop, keyboard, or phone puts a lot of strain on your neck muscles. Over time, it’s not uncommon to have neck pain, shoulder or upper back pain, and even headaches as a result. Doctors see this problem so often, they’ve given it a nickname: tech neck.
The good news is, tech neck can typically be treated with some simple lifestyle changes aimed at relieving strain by improving posture and workplace ergonomics. But other neck pain causes aren’t so easy to treat, and in some cases, they can indicate a more serious underlying medical problem. These can include:
- Herniated or “slipped” discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
Some of these injuries happen after an injury, like a fall or car accident, but some can happen on their own as a result of age or repeated strain on your neck.
When to see a doctor for neck pain
If you have neck pain, it can be really tempting to ignore it and see if it improves with time. For some types of mild neck pain — including pain that comes from sleeping with your neck unsupported or the aforementioned “tech neck” — a wait-and-see approach can be OK for a couple of days. But you should always see a doctor for neck pain that:
- Happens after an accident
- Is getting worse instead of better
- Is accompanied by radiating pain or tingling in your arms
- Is accompanied by headaches, neck stiffness, or fever
- Causes reduced range of motion in your neck
- Is associated with popping, grinding, or other noises
- Causes problems with coordination or balance
Many of these issues indicate nerve involvement, and without prompt medical attention, you can wind up with permanent nerve and muscle damage, along with physical disability. Other symptoms, like fever or headaches, might be indicative of an underlying infection that, without treatment, can quickly spread.
Dr. Sandhu approaches neck pain treatment conservatively, with every treatment plan customized based on the underlying problem, the patient’s symptoms, their lifestyle, and other factors. Before prescribing any treatment, she performs a comprehensive evaluation of your neck to make sure the plan she recommends is optimized for your health and comfort.
Relief for your neck pain
Most of us don’t give the neck a second thought — until it starts to hurt. Fortunately, Dr. Sandhu has extensive experience in diagnosing and relieving neck pain for patients at Magnolia Pain Associates. To learn how she can help you, book an appointment online or over the phone today.