Your neck consists of vertebrae stretching from the upper torso to the skull. Cervical discs between vertebrae create flexibility and absorb excess shock. The neck muscles, bones, and ligaments support your head, allowing motion. Inflammation, injury, or abnormalities in this section causes neck stiffness and pain. Neck pain and stiffness is a common condition, but when the pain becomes severe, it’s time to visit a pain management doctor. Identifying the actual cause of neck pain is not possible at home as numerous reasons could play a role in it.
Sometimes, neck pain arises due to a poor sleeping position. In these situations, you can relieve pain with home remedies and OTC medication. However, you should still visit a pain management doctor for a proper diagnosis. The doctor will confirm if the reason for your pain is an illness, injury, or some other condition. If the neck pain continues for more than a week, it is severe and immediately needs medical attention.
Do you live in New York City? If so, you should visit Dr. Matthew Grimm for a consultation and diagnosis. After your diagnosis, Dr. Grimm will suggest the best treatment plan according to your condition.
Causes of Severe Neck Pain
Neck pain and stiffness can be the result of various conditions. Here are some major factors that trigger it:
1. Muscle Tension and Strain
Muscle tension and strain can occur due to behaviors and activities including:
- Working on the desk without changing position.
- Poor posture
- Bad sleeping position
- Jerking of the neck while exercising
Injuries can force your muscles and ligaments to move beyond their normal range. For instance, when you’re involved in a car accident, fall, or sports injury, you will notice strain and pain in your neck. Vibration and fracture in the neck bones can damage the spinal cord. Whiplash or sudden neck jerks can also lead to a neck injury.
3. Heart Attack
Neck pain is a symptom of a heart attack. Therefore, when you experience neck pain, make sure to check for the other symptoms as well, such as:
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- A jaw or arm pain
If you notice other symptoms as well as neck pain, immediately contact an ambulance and rush to the emergency room.
You may also experience neck pain due to meningitis. In this condition, the tissue around the spinal cord and brain suffers from inflammation. Besides neck pain, you will also notice headaches and fever. Meningitis is a life-threatening disease that requires immediate medical attention.
Treatment Options for Severe Neck Pain
Whether you have mild or moderate neck pain, self-care activities can offer relief. If the neck pain still affects your quality of life, consult with a pain management doctor in NYC. When you visit an experienced doctor, they will diagnose and suggest effective treatments.
The first line of defense includes OTC medication. However, before you take these medications, consult with a doctor. You can take tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants for pain relief.
- Physical Therapy
A pain management doctor can also help correct your posture. They will share neck-strengthening and alignment exercises. Electrical stimulation along with ice and heat therapy is an effective way to help ease your pain and eliminate the risk of recurrence. Other times, the doctor may refer you to a professional physical therapist to help treat your condition.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
The doctor may also place electrodes on your skin near painful areas. These devices generate electrical impulses that help relieve pain.
Traction is a technique that involves pulleys, weights, and air bladder. These tools help gently stretch your back. It’s important that you undergo this therapy under the supervision of a trained pain management doctor and physical therapist. Because these exercises stretch nerve roots, you need to be careful about the procedure.
- Short-Term Immobilization
The doctor may also suggest a neck support collar to support the neck structure and help relieve pain. Remember that wearing a collar for more than three hours can create more stiffness. It is important to keep moving your neck muscles after a while. Therefore, take off the collar every three hours and let your muscles relax.
Surgical and Other Procedures
- Steroid Injections
Injecting steroid solutions such as corticosteroid medications in the bones of the cervical spine can help ease the pain. Lidocaine or other numbing medications are also effective for pain relief in the neck.
In rare conditions, the doctor may recommend surgery for neck pain. However, surgeries are highly effective for spinal cord and nerve root compression.
Severe Neck Pain: Conclusion
For extreme neck pain and stiffness, you should consult with a professional pain management doctor in for pain relief. Dr. Matthew Grimm diagnoses and identifies the root causes of the pain to ensure long-term relief. Once they understand the underlying cause of the pain, they will recommend the best treatment method suitable for your condition.
Matthew Grimm, M.D.
160 E 56th St
New York, NY 10022