A Literal Pain in Your Neck?
We rarely notice our human bodies during our daily activities, but when they stop working normally it’s impossible to ignore them. Perhaps the clearest example of this is neck pain; our necks are constantly supporting our heads—which usually weigh around ten pounds—and protecting vital nerves and vertebrae, yet we only notice these necks when they start to hurt. Anyone who has suffered through neck pain knows that it can be incredibly disorienting and often even debilitating. This article talks about the science behind neck pain and covers some of the most common ways to resolve it.
Neck Pain Facts
Neck pain is a general term for a range of symptoms that plague a sizeable percentage of adults today. For some, it comes in the form of a stiff neck that restricts their ability to rotate their head. Others experience an irritating or even crippling pain in a particular spot in their neck. Some have to deal with general tenderness or soreness; others face pain that begins in the neck but extends into other areas of their bodies.
Physicians tell us repeatedly that neck pain is a serious public health issue. The prevalence of neck pain varies from study to study based on how a researcher defines neck pain, but according to one study more than 75% of the adult population suffers some form of neck pain in any given year. Experts have pointed out that neck pain is not merely an annoyance for individuals; it is also an incredibly costly problem.
What causes this widespread public health problem? Unfortunately, a wide range of issues can produce neck pain. In some cases, nerve issues are the cause, perhaps as a result of trauma. For others, bad posture or muscle strains bring about neck pain. In rarer cases, neck pain may indicate the onset of a serious, degenerative disease.
Neck Pain Resolution
Those suffering from neck pain have many potential options for alleviating the suffering that this pain causes. Some of the most common ways to resolve neck pain include:
- Medication: Modern medicine, thankfully, includes a range of medicinal options for dealing with neck pain that can be quite effective. For example, simple pain medications like ibuprofen can reduce swelling that may be directly causing neck pain by squeezing on a sensitive nerve. In some cases, more serious medicinal options may be necessary; muscle relaxants, antibiotics, and steroid injections are all possible treatments for severe neck pain.
- Environmental Changes: In many cases, neck pain results from avoidable issues in a person’s individual environment. For example, a person’s choice of pillow may seem simple, but doctors consistently point to the need to find the right pillow if one is to avoid neck pain. For example, a memory foam pillow purposefully conforms to the natural shape of your head and neck to offer customized support. When one considers that around a third of life is spent in bed, it makes sense that one’s pillow might affect one’s health.
- Alternative Treatments: A range of specialists offer their services for people suffering from neck pain. For example, chiropractors and acupuncturists are trained to cater to the needs of those with neck issues. Massage therapists also offer unique options for alleviating neck pain. A more traditional pain management method that seems to be enjoying a resurgence is the art of aromatherapy; for example, some treat their pain by diffusing essential oils.
- Surgical procedures: Considered the final option for dealing with neck pain, neck surgery can sometimes be the necessary route for those suffering with particularly painful, chronic neck pain. Thankfully, the resolution options listed above are much cheaper and often work quite well, particularly if they are pursued before the pain increases in severity; however, neck pain can in some cases progress to the point where surgery is the only option left.
Although we often forget about our necks when they are doing their job, it is vital to remember that they are crucial for our overall health. Neck pain rarely simply disappears on its own. If you are suffering from neck pain, it is wise to be proactive in facing that pain so that you can manage that pain and address its root causes before they become more severe.