Neck pain can be categorized into two types: traumatic and non-traumatic. Traumatic injury to the neck requires immediate medical evaluation and is best treated at an urgent care facility.
By: Dr. Jason Gruss, MD, FAAPM&R
First Health Associates, Department of Physical Medicine
COMMON CAUSES OF NECK PAIN
Neck pain can be categorized into two types: traumatic and non-traumatic. Most traumatic injury to the neck requires immediate medical attention and is often diagnosed and treated in an emergency room or urgent care facility.
Non-traumatic neck pain is usually due to a musculoskeletal problem. Strain caused by poor posture or sleep habits, injury to the muscles or ligaments, and osteoarthritis are all common causes of neck pain. If pain persists after a few days of rest, heat or ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s important to seek medical attention to rule out a more serious problem such as infection or meningitis.
Seek medical attention if your neck pain is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness, weakness or tingling that moves down the arms
- Headache, dizziness or loss of balance
- Vision problems
- Fever or chills
- Loss of control of bladder or bowels
- Neck instability
DIAGNOSING CAUSE OF NECK PAIN
The first step in diagnosing and treating neck pain is to get a full patient history. Your doctor will need to know details about your symptoms, as well as the intensity, duration, and location of your pain. Then a thorough physical evaluation is done. During the physical exam, your doctor will assess the range of motion in your neck, and look for external signs such as bruises, swelling or lumps. Additional diagnostic tests, such as x-rays or blood work, may be necessary as well to determine the cause of your problem.
NECK PAIN TREATMENT
Neck pain treatment plans vary depending on the cause. But, in most cases where the cause is due to musculoskeletal or nerve problems, a combination of the following therapies is often prescribed:
- Ice and/or heat
- Muscle relaxants, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories)
- Strengthening and stretching exercises
- Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and trigger point injections
Because of the complexity of the area, treating neck pain often requires a combination of therapies. At First Health we often employ pain and muscle relaxant medications as a prime modality. Often acupuncture and chiropractic care can provide lasting results.
Since 1981, First Health Associates has been providing exceptional health care to residents of Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Elk Grove and Des Plaines. First Health is an integrative medicine practice that offers: Medical Care; Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; and Chiropractic Care.
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