Neck pain is reported by the National Institute of Health to be the second most common type of chronic pain next to back pain. Women report suffering from neck pain more frequently than men. Various causes of neck pain include arthritis, muscle strain, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, stress, poor posture, smoking, tumor, and trauma. One of the most common causes of neck pain in women ages 20-40 is muscle tension and stress. This is good news since this type of neck pain is very easily and successfully treated with proper exercise and stretching.
It is important that anyone suffering from neck pain that lasts more than a couple of weeks follow up with their physician for proper diagnosis and treatment of their pain. Typically x-ray evaluation and a thorough exam can aide in the diagnosis. Occasionally, your physician may need to order other tests like MRI or EMG in order to further evaluate your pain.
Common treatments for neck pain include various medications, physical therapy, and massage therapy. For patients suffering from nerve pain in one or both of the arms radiating from the neck, steroid injections may be helpful as well. The only treatment proven to slow down arthritic processes in the neck is proper exercise including specific strengthening and stretching for the neck, shoulders and upper back. A physical therapist can develop a home program for patients to continue to follow on their own. It is also important for the patient to learn proper posture, to quit smoking, and have an ergonomic station for her computer. Exercise has also been proven to lower stress, but developing other healthy outlets for stress reduction is also helpful in reducing neck pain.
Overall, it is important for the patient to understand the cause of neck pain lasting more than a couple of weeks. Proper diagnosis leads to proper treatment. This empowers the patient to take control of the pain