Neck pain releif

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Neck pain is a relatively common problem. And people on the 'net sometimes tap in "releif" when they mean "relief."

It may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues - the muscles, ligaments, and nerves - as well as in bones and joints of the spine.

The most common causes of neck pain are soft tissue injury or osteoarthritis. In rare cases, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. Neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms.

Diseases that cause neck pain include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people as a result of wear of the joints between the bones in the neck. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause destruction of the joints of the neck. Both of these major types of arthritis can cause stiffness and pain.

Cervical disk degeneration also can cause neck pain. The disk acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration, the normal gel-like center of the disk loses its water content and degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. As the disk space narrows, more stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing further wear and tear. The cervical disk may also protrude and cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Because the neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. A "rear end" automobile collision may result in hyperextension, a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits, or hyperflexion, a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits. Most common injuries are to the soft tissues, i.e., muscles and ligaments.

Neck pain can also be referred from the shoulders. Postural abnormalities can lead to tight muscles in the front of the shoulder. Couple this with weak muscles in the upper back, and neck pain can be the result.

An example: People who work for long hours at a computer are prone to this muscle imbalance.

Seldom does neck pain require surgical intervention.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)can help with pain relief. Muscle relaxants may provide relief from muscle spasm. Narcotic pain relievers may be prescribed for use during the acute phase.

A cervical collar may be recommended to help a patient with neck pain. Cervical collars limit movement and support the head taking the load off the neck. Limiting neck movement and reducing pressure (weight) gives muscles needed rest while healing. Cervical traction may be prescribed for home use. This form of traction gently pulls the head, stretching neck muscles, while increasing the size of the neural passageways (foramen).

Physical therapy may be incorporated into the patient’s treatment plan. PT may include ice therapy to decrease inflammation and pain. Heat treatments may be used to accelerate soft tissue repair. Heat also helps decrease muscle spasm, and pain. Ultrasound is a treatment used to deliver heat deep into soft tissues.

Therapeutic exercise can help build strength, increase range of motion, coordination, stability, balance, and promotes relaxation. Therapists educate their patients about their condition and teach posture correction and relaxation techniques.

For more stubborn pain, botox injections and prolotherapy may be recommended. Prolotherapy is a technique where an irritant is injected into loose degenerated ligaments to help tighten them. This relieves muscle spasm and pain in the neck. Epidural injections and radiofrequency ablation are much more aggressive techniques.

Get more information about neck pain relief and related issues as well as...

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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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