Neck pain is a common complaint among Americans. It tat is often caused by poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, and various injuries. Everyone experiences pain in the neck at some point in their lives. Fortunately, neck pain rarely contributes to serious health issues. But it doesn't mean you can ignore it. Let's look at the most common causes of neck pain.1. Strained neck muscle or tendon
A strain occurs in the neck for various reasons. You could be spending too much time sitting in the wrong position or sleeping with your neck at an unusual angle. A strain can even occur due to a simple movement. Many people think that a strain is the result of intense physical activity, but it can actually be an injury after normal physical activity.
Treatment options for a strained neck usually include resting the neck and placing ice on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every two-three hours. This problem usually goes away within a few days or weeks. However, if you suspect your strain is severe and the above remedies don't help, you should visit your health care provider as soon as possible.2. Worn down joints
Worn down joints are one of the most common complaints of elderly people. Over time, our joints tend to wear down. This problem is known as osteoarthritis that leads to the degeneration of cartilage.
Healthy and young cartilage is able to properly absorb shock as you move. When cartilage wears down, your bones start to rub together leading to pain in the neck and inability to move the neck properly.
It's impossible to reverse osteoarthritis. However, you can manage the condition and reduce your symptoms with lifestyle changes, for instance, physical therapy, and certain medications like NSAIDs. If these options don't work, your health care provider might recommend some chronic neck pain treatment options like cortisone injections that will help you relieve joint pain, injections of hyaluronic acid, or in a severe case, surgery.3. Whiplash
Whiplash is a type of neck injury caused by a forceful and fast movement of the neck. Whiplash can be caused by car crashes, sports accidents, physical abuse, or other injuries.
Whiplash is usually accompanied by symptoms such as regular headaches, stiffness, fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, and pain in your neck, shoulders, upper back, or arms.
If you have a mild injury, whiplash can go away by resting, applying ice for up to 15 minutes multiple times a day, using over-the-counter pain drugs, and doing gentle stretches recommended by their doctor. However, if whiplash is severe it requires more intensive treatment options such as numbing injections, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, etc. That's why it's wise to see a doctor if you experience neck pain after any injury instead of trying to self-diagnose and treat your symptoms.4. Pinched nerve
A pinched nerve is another common issue that occurs due to excessive pressure on a nerve caused by surrounding tissues, like bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons. A compressed nerve is usually accompanied by shooting localized pain, tingling, and numbness.
In most cases, symptoms of a pinched nerve go away in a few days or weeks with the help of rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory mediations. Physical therapy can also be effective at lessening the pain. In the most severe cases, you may need surgery.5. Underlying conditions
Though it's much more likely that the cause of your neck pain is a simple strain or compressed nerve, disorders like meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer are possible. Neck pain is a common symptom of those conditions.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks joints leading to severe inflammation and pain potentially including the one in your neck.
Meningitis is an inflammatory disorder in which the membranes of the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. Neck pain is a very common symptom of this condition.
Cancer can make your neck ache in several ways depending on the type of cancer. Cancer that affects bones in the neck can cause bone pain in the cervical spine, as well as having a tumor in a neck can compress a nerve resulting in pain.