Chronic neck pain image There are many structures in your neck that can cause you neck pain; the major ones include the muscles, nerves, vertebrae, and the intervertebral discs between the vertebrae.

Acute neck pain can often be felt in areas other than your neck. If muscle spasms are pinching a nerve in your neck, symptoms such as numbness, pins and needles, or weakness could be felt in your arms, hands, and fingers. Other conditions may cause these symptoms as well and it is important to seek medical attention if they persist.

What Causes Chronic Neck Pain?

Simply put, chronic neck pain is neck pain that lasts for more than 2-3 weeks. Whether the pain you feel is mild or severe does not make a difference in the diagnosis of your condition being chronic.

Neck Pain Causes

The most common cause of neck pain is a muscle strain or tension. Acute neck pain is usually caused by common day-to-day activities such as sitting at a desk all day without taking breaks; poor posture while sitting down, watching TV, or reading a book; sleeping in a wrong position, usually on your stomach; looking at your computer monitor for extended period of time and not having its height adjusted properly; or twisting and turning your neck in sudden jarring motions.

Acute neck pain is usually caused by common day-to-day activities

Neck pain causes may also include a traumatic injury to a structure in the cervical segment of your spine. Injuries such as a vertebral fracture, whiplash, and blood vessel damage could lead to other conditions that may cause chronic neck pain.

Medical Conditions That Cause Neck Pain:

  • Cervical disc herniation
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease
  • Pinched neck nerve
  • Cervical spinal stenosis
  • Cervical arthritis
  • Spinal tumor
  • Spinal infection

Neck Pain Relief

Listed below are treatments that you can do at home for neck pain relief.

  • Over-the-counter medication that contains ibuprofen such as Advil or Motrin. Ibuprofen can be taken to reduce inflammation and act as a pain reliever. Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be taken for pain relief as well if you are not trying to reduce inflammation.
  • Ice and heat can be applied to the injured area for neck pain relief. The most commonly accepted treatment method is to apply ice to the area for the first 48-72 hours to reduce the initial inflammation. After this period heat may be applied to increase blood flow to the area to encourage healing. If you don’t have an ice pack available, a bag of frozen vegetables will work just as well. Heat can be applied by taking a hot shower, applying a hot compress, or using a heating pad. It is important that you do not leave either of these on for an extended duration as too much ice can lead to frost bite, and too much heat could end up with a 3rd degree burn. The maximum duration for heat or ice treatment is 20 minutes.
  • Reduce your activity level for the first few days to give your body a chance to relax and heal the injury. It is important to note that you should not remain sedentary for an extended period of time as this could lead to muscle atrophy that will worsen your condition.

If after a few days to a week goes by and you are not feeling any neck pain relief, you should schedule an appointment to visit your doctor. Your doctor will be able to look at your medical history, review your injury, and provide you with a much clearer treatment plan for you to follow.