Understanding Neck Pain
Your neck is actually quite flexible and it relies on muscles and ligaments for support. "Sprains" and "strains" in your neck are the result of these tissues being stretched in a way that is too hard or too far, much like a rope that frays when it is stretched beyond its normal capacity.
The medical term, "sprain" refers to a situation where the tough, durable ligaments that hold your bones together have been damaged, while "strain" means that your muscles or tendons that move your neck have been partially torn.
In other cases, less traumatic activities such as reaching, pushing, pulling, moving heavy objects and falls can also trigger these problems. For most people who suffer from neck pain that is brought on by sprains and strains, the pain is not the result of any single event but rather from repeated overloading.
Tendons and ligaments for the most part are able to handle these small isolated stressors quite well, but repetitive challenges lead to injury in much the same way that constantly bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Some common types of these less acute types of cervical sprain/strain injuries include bad posture, poor workstations, repetitive movements, prolonged overhead activity, sedentary lifestyles, improper sleep positions, poor bra support and obesity.
Complaints about neck sprains and strains often include dull neck pain that becomes sharper when you move your head. Rest may also relieve your symptoms but can also often leads to stiffness. The pain is primarily found in the back of your neck but is also known to spread to your shoulders or between your shoulder blades.
Tension headaches are also known to commonly accompany neck injuries. If you start to experience more severe symptoms contact your doctor immediately, some of these conditions to be aware of include severe or "different" headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion or "fogginess", difficulty concentrating, dizziness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, change in vision, nausea or vomiting, numbness or tingling in your arms or face, weakness or clumsiness in your arms and hands, decreased bowel or bladder control, or fever.
This process can lead to ongoing pain and even arthritis in some cases. Seeking early and appropriate treatment for your injuries, like the type we provide, is critical. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may need to limit your activity for a while, especially if you are frequently experiencing pain during certain movements or activities.
If possible you should do your best to avoid heavy lifting and take frequent breaks from prolonged activity, particularly overhead activity. Following acute injuries, you can try to add ice for 10-15 minutes each hour. Heat may be helpful in some situations of chronic pain. Be sure to ask your doctor for specific ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report partial relief from sports-creams.
At Cornerstone Health, our neck pain specialists in Evanston, IL, have a long track record of helping patients overcome chronic neck pain & stiffness. In most cases, the joints, discs, nerves, and muscles involved with neck pain and stiffness can quickly be treated with minimally invasive methods to help you move your neck fully without pain.
When you experience acute neck pain, our physicians will determine what happened, if there is an injury to the tissues or joints of the neck, and what you can do on your own to overcome the limitation and prevent neck pain and stiffness from returning. We’ll evaluate sleep habits, sitting posture, athletic movements and joint health to determine the biggest factors in your neck pain.