Neck pain can have many origins and it is important to identify the cause of this problem, especially if you are working from home. Know more.
At neck pain are localized pains in the cervical vertebrae, mainly in the region of the neck. They can have several causes and, depending on the level of severity, can be treated with exercises and drugs or even require surgery.
In either case, it is important to be aware of the symptoms and, in case of persistent discomfort, consult a doctor and obtain specialist advice. So, get a better understanding of the origin of this problem and how to proceed in each case.
Neck pain: causes, symptoms and treatments
Definition and main causes
Neck pain arises as a result of anomalies in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, nerves) or in the bony structures of the cervical spine. Trauma and excessive overload are the most frequent causes of these injuries.
In less common cases, neck pain can be caused by tumors, infections, congenital anomalies or rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, in the latter case, the cervical vertebrae may be affected and there may be pain and stiffness in the neck area.
Other possible causes
Intervertebral discs: intervertebral discs serve as impact absorbers. Its degeneration can cause a narrowing of the space between the vertebrae, increasing the overload exerted on them. In other situations, the discs can shift and compress the spinal cord or other nerves, resulting in the so-called herniated disc. Any of these circumstances can give rise to neck pain.
Neck: the neck is a flexible region, so it is more vulnerable to trauma and neck pain.
Extreme activities: motor sports, swimming pool jumps, contact sports and falls are experiences that increase the risk of injury to the cervical vertebrae. Automobile collisions (from behind) cause hyperextension or hyperflexion of the neck, causing muscle and ligament damage. In more serious situations, there may even be a fracture of the spine, spinal cord injury and, consequently, paralysis.
Symptoms of neck pain
The symptoms of neck pain can be varied, depending on the origin of the problem.
In general, neck pain can radiate to the shoulders, arms or legs and be accompanied by a tingling sensation, numbness or weakness in various parts of the body.
In case of trauma
Injuries to the neck region require immobilization of this area (by qualified professionals) in order to avoid additional, more serious and health-threatening injuries.
In case of non-trauma
Continuous, persistent, severe neck pain radiating to the arms or legs and associated with headacheweakness or tingling requires seeing a doctor.
If you experience a burning sensation when you touch the skin on your arm or hand, or feel a shock-like pain when you extend your arm and hand, there may be compression of the spinal cord or other nerves, so specialist advice is imperative.
There are also cases where there is loss of control of the urinary sphincters or the anus. This is a sign of pressure on the medulla and requires urgent therapeutic measures.
The diagnosis of this health problem is made through medical examination, clinical history and evaluation of the neck region.
In addition to this assessment, a radiographic study should be performed using computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Therefore, these exams are particularly important when neck pain does not improve or there is an associated trauma.
The treatment of neck pain naturally depends on the cause. In some situations, the problem can be controlled through anti-inflammatories and heat or cold, capable of causing a muscle relaxing action that relieves pain.
Neck pain caused by daily activities, as a rule, improves between 4 to 6 weeks, using painkillers, exercises and changing position during the practice of these activities.
Body postures can also help in the treatment of these problems. In addition, there are exercises that increase neck flexibility, such as massages, performed by qualified professionals.
When the problem results from trauma, the recovery time without surgery can take between 3 to 12 months, with intermittent pain. In case of spinal cord compression, presence of tumor or canal narrowing, surgery is the most recommended option.
It is necessary to be aware that neck pain can become chronic, especially with age. These cases greatly interfere with the quality of life of patients, and may progress to cases of fatigue, depression or anxiety.
To avoid this problem, there are some Preventive measures that can be taken, such as:
- avoid being for long periods of time in positions that strain the neck, such as working in front of a computer, for example;
- while sitting, you should have your back straight, feet flat on the floor and take regular breaks;
- during the nightuse a pillow that keeps your neck aligned and avoid sleeping on your stomach;
- when doing motor sports, always wear a seat belt and helmet. While driving, have the seat adjusted to keep your back straight;
- keep a suitable weight.