Neck pain often starts with a subtle annoyance. It's a minor inconvenience you can feel, but unless you focus on it, there doesn't seem to be much of a problem. Over time, however, the aching becomes more substantial and, eventually, you can't even remember when you last lived without pain in your neck.
Whatever pain level you're now at, you need to look into some neck pain treatment plans today.
You may wake up with a stiff neck and feel the pain down your spine and even into your ankles throughout the day. It may flare up into sharp, agonizing stabs at different times of the day and last for only a few minutes. Whatever your symptoms, there are different neck pain treatments to help.
While surgery is an option if you have a structural problem that can be fixed to alleviate your symptoms, but you should view this as a last resort. Surgery on the neck and anything else dealing with the spine, is a major surgery and can take months, if not years, to recover fully. That is why before you agree to go under the knife, you need to look at alternative neck pain treatment options.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain can be caused by any on a long list of problems and causes.
For example, the distress and tension you feel in your neck may be an indication of how you sleep. Many people sleep in positions that can place extra stress on their necks. If you're a side sleeper, then you likely have your head propped up in a way that forces your neck to twist upward — out of alignment with your spine. Sleeping on your back is substantially better for neck and back pain, yet even sleeping on your back may lead to some pain, depending on your pillow and its positioning.
Whatever is causing your neck pain, you need to look for neck pain treatment options.
It may sound too simple, but the way in which you sit in a chair can impact your neck pain. If your spine does not maintain correct alignment, your neck will suffer from it. Everything in your body is connected, so when your body becomes accustomed to twist one way the muscles and bones in the body will try to compensate.
For example, when you stand you may put more weight on one foot. If you do this frequently, then your muscles will lean in one direction, pulling the tendons and muscles toward one side of your body. This can lead to problems not only with your bones, but also with your muscular system. Standing incorrectly can lead to problems all the way up your spine, including your back and neck.
Other causes of pain are accidents. If you've been involved in an auto accident, then you may have suffered whiplash. This is where a seatbelt keeps your body safe and secure in the seat but the force of the accident throws your head forward and down very suddenly and violently. At the time, you may not realize you injured yourself but, eventually, you may suffer.
Whatever caused your neck pain it is important to do what you can to seek out appropriate neck pain treatment options. Thankfully, there are different ways to correct the root cause while addressing your pain.
How to Tell If You Need Surgery
You will need surgery once you have exhausted all other options. Again, neck surgery needs to be your last-resort neck pain treatment. Yes, you want immediate relief. However, neck surgery will not provide immediate relief.
Typically with neck surgery, your doctor will go in and reduce the tension placed on the nerves within your spinal column. This is done in a few different ways, but each one involves you going under general anesthesia and your doctor working on your spine. There are many large nerves (not to mention your windpipe) that can be affected badly if something goes wrong during surgery.
At least neck surgery has improved substantially in recent years, so it is not as complicated or risky as it once was. Still, you should attempt as many of the other options as possible and save cervical surgery as your last possible neck pain treatment.
Options For Neck Pain Treatment
There's no shortage in the number of neck pain treatment plans from which to choose. Some methods can even work hand-in-hand. You will probably begin feeling less pain once you implement some of these different neck pain treatment options. It will probably take time, but you'll slowly but surely notice a big difference in the level of pain in your neck.
It doesn't matter what kind of neck pain treatment plans you try, if you don't correct the cause of the pain, then you'll eventually go right back to suffering.
Your posture is a key culprit of neck-area pain. If you see your doctor or a physical therapist, then they can point out where your posture is incorrect and how to correct it. Other professionals, such as massage therapists and chiropractors can point out the problems, how they are impacting your entire body and offer suggestions for improvement.
Posture corrections usually begin with how you sit at your desk. You need to have your back straight in the air and your feet flat on the floor. Your keyboard needs to be positioned so your elbows are bent at 90 degrees from your sides. You may need to invest in different chairs and desks to do this, but buying a new desk is a far less-expensive investment than surgery.
You will probably need to change your sleeping position. Your neck and spine need to be flush and aligned straightly. If you have neck pain, especially when you first wake up, chances are you are sleeping in a poor position.
It's best if you train yourself to sleep on your back. It is difficult to make a sleeping change, especially as you've likely slept in one position for most of your life. However, it's a must as it will improve your back and neck posture and alleviate your pain.
A physical therapist can give you pointers on how to sleep. There are also special pillows to assist you. Many are contoured specifically to alleviate neck pain. They go under the base of your neck and not under the head as this avoids elevating the head and increasing the tension in your neck.
There can be several issues going on with your neck that are causing your pain. First, your muscles are likely pulled incorrectly. If you sit at a computer desk for hours a day, then your neck likely has a slight forward lead, which is pulling the muscles in the back of your neck. A massage therapist can work on these muscles and the muscles moving into your shoulders.
Excellent massage therapists can also discover if the cause of your pain is located further down in your body. It's possible an improper arch on your foot is causing one of your feet to be elevated, which can actually send pain signals all the way up through your neck. With the body fully interconnected, you never know what the problem might be. A massage therapist can be key in identifying and correcting the source of your pain.
When looking for a massage therapist, keep in mind you need someone who not only is highly rated, but someone who also gives a good, deep-tissue massage. You don't want a rub down as this will not help break up knotted muscles. You need someone who can get in and work out the problem area.
Whenever it comes to the neck, it's always best to go with a professional. Just as a massage therapist is in-tune with your body, so too are great chiropractors. They are specialists at identifying alignment issues and correcting them.
And, like with every profession, there are great chiropractors and there are also inferior ones. Do your due diligence by researching chiropractors. Don't accept one just because they offer a discount through Groupon. Research professionals in your area and see what they are rated.
A chiropractor will work your neck in a different way. Depending on what the cause of the pain is a chiropractor might help more than any of the other corrective options. Over time, gravity pulls down on your spine, including your neck. As your neck becomes compressed, it squeezes down different ligaments while also placing more pressure on nerves. With the help of a chiropractor, this tension can be reduced, helping greatly with pinched nerves.
Whatever you do, though, it is important for you not to crack your own neck. Twisting your neck hurts you and you may exacerbate the problem over the long term.
Medication isn't a long-term fix, but it will help make the pain easier to deal with in the short term. First, take a regular over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You should also take supplements, such as fish oil, that help ease your body's natural inflammation. If you have recently pinched a nerve, then you can use medicated hot/cold creams to help with the pain.
Neck pain is a serious issue that can plague our days and drag us down. This is why you need to look for what neck pain treatment options might work best for you. Spinal surgery is a drastic solution that takes a longer recovery time and could lead to more long-term pain. While surgery is one option on the table, to be sure, you'll be better off by first seeking help from other professionals through neck pain treatment alternatives.