Neck pain – Diagnosis, Treatments, and Home Remedies

Neck pain caused by muscular distress is very common. Although it’s not permanent, in some cases it gets worse. So much so that you can’t move your neck and all directions experience excruciating pain. 

If you’re experiencing neck pain then it’s better to get treatment ASAP. You can get rid of neck pain fast with medicines and home remedies. But first, it’s important to know if your neck pain is getting worse, and if you really need medical attention for neck pain treatment.

Let’s dive in to know all about neck pain and how to get rid of it. 

1. Causes of neck pain

You can experience neck pain if you sit in the wrong posture. Bending on a laptop and not positioning your neck in line with the spine can cause neck pain. Let’s look into the possible causes of neck pain. 

1.1 Muscle strain 

Neck muscles are not very tough. So they can get strained by doing some activities for a long time. Hunched over your phone or laptop or even reading a book while lying down can cause neck muscles to strain. 

1.2 Weak joints 

Joints in your neck can get weak as you age and they can cause pain. Neck pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis. 

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to wear and tear. As a result, bones rub together and joints get damaged. This neck pain can get worse over time. 

1.3 Nerve compression 

The nerves in your spine can get pressed in case of herniated disks. This neck pain can also persist and worsen with time. 

1.4  Injuries 

Accidents and other injuries that damage your neck can cause pain. This neck pain goes away as the injury heals. 

1.5 Illnesses

Some illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, etc can cause severe neck pain as well. 

2. Symptoms of neck pain

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Headache that increases if you hold your neck at one position. 
  • Can’t move your neck in all directions easily. 
  • The neck can’t be held in one position for long. 

3. Diagnosis 

Once you reach your doctor for help, they’ll examine your neck. They’ll see whether you can move your neck in all directions. Also, they’ll analyze whether you feel numbness or tenderness along with pain. After that, your doctor will ask you to undergo some imaging and blood tests to diagnose the cause of your neck pain. 

3.1 X-ray

An X-ray might be advised to take an inside look at your neck for any injuries or displacements. 

3.2 CT scan 

For a more detailed view, a combination of many x-rays can be advised. This is called a CT scan that gives you a complete picture of the anatomy of your organs. 

3.3 MRI

Using radio waves and magnetic fields, MRI gives a detailed view of the bones and tissues of an organ. This is a very detailed view and helps in a clear-cut diagnosis. 

3.4 Blood tests 

Blood tests can be advised to look for any infections and inflammation. You can get neck pain in case of any infection or inflammation as well. 

4. Neck Pain Treatment 

Mild to moderate neck pain can be relieved using home remedies. It goes away within 2 to 3 weeks. But if it persists, you have to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Possible treatments include:

4.1 Medications 

Pain relievers are given so that you can relax your neck and move it. If you have severe neck pain then you’ll be given muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants. If medicines are relieving pain then your doctor will recommend therapy. 

4.2 Therapy 

Therapy is done to correct the positioning of your neck and align it straight. Your therapist will help you to move your neck around. They’ll make you do a set of exercises and use hot and cold packs to get rid of neck pain. This is physical therapy. 

You can also be given a soft collar to wear. It helps in alignment of the neck and you’ll experience less pain. 

Traction is also a therapy treatment in which weights or pulleys are used to stretch your neck. A mild force is applied to make sure it aligns your neck properly and you don’t face any other problem. 

4.3 Laser treatment 

Advanced laser pain therapy is a safe and non-invasive way to get rid of neck pain. It doesn’t have any side effects. Your doctor will apply the laser to your neck for some time to relieve muscle tension. The number of sessions depends upon your condition. 

4.4 Steroids 

As a last resort, your doctor can prescribe you steroids. Corticosteroids are injected usually on the base of nerves, in the small faces between the bones or in the muscles. It depends upon the cause of your neck pain. 

4.5 Surgery 

If steroids aren’t doing any good then the last option is surgery. It happens rarely because most of the time neck pain goes away with the above treatments. 

Your surgeon will release the nerve that might be compressed, causing pain. 

5. Home remedies 

Along with medicines, you can try self-care. It will help you get rid of neck pain fast. You can try:

5.1 Exercise 

Move your neck as much as you can. Don’t forcefully move it. Just move to the extent that it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. Exercising like this increases the blood flow in the neck region and makes you feel relaxed. 

5.2 Hot and cold treatment 

Try a hot pack or cold pack to reduce pain. If you have inflammation along with pain, you can try cold pack treatment.

You can also try each of them alternatively. 

5.3 Massage

Massage with any oil helps relieve pain. But massages shouldn’t be done by any random person. Choose a professional massager so that you don’t worsen your neck pain. Massages are a great way to relieve muscle tension and strain. 

6. Alternate treatment options 

You can consult your doctor if you want to go for some alternative treatment for neck pain. After the approval of your doctor, you can try these alternative treatments that can help you with neck pain:

6.1 Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is a technique in which small needles are applied to various parts of the body to get rid of the pain. You can try the acupuncture method to get rid of neck pain too. Although, you might need to go through many sessions to get the desired results. 

It’s crucial to find an expert that uses sterile needles, and an environment that is also hygienic. 

6.2 Chiropractor 

A chiropractor uses abrupt force on joints to reduce pain and enhance mobility. The Chiropractic technique is done on the spine usually. You can try this method for neck pain as well. It can give you temporary relief and you would be able to move your neck properly. 

Again, it’s important to consult an expert who is professional and experienced. 

7. Prevention 

Prevention is better than cure. So take care of your posture and make sure you don’t bend or hold your neck in any position for long. 

  • Move your neck more often. 
  • Sleep on a comfortable pillow. Make sure your neck is aligned properly. 
  • Get treatment ASAP if you have rheumatoid arthritis because it can reach your neck as well. 
  • Don’t stare at the phone or use a laptop for too long. In case you work like this, make sure you take tiny breaks in between. 

8. The Bottom line 

Neck pain is a common condition that can restrict your neck movements as well. Usually, neck pain goes away after 2 to 3 weeks. But if it persists, it’s better to consult your doctor for proper neck pain treatment. Alongside, you can try other techniques as well including laser pain therapy and acupuncture.