Neck muscle pain is a common complaint involving the neck and caused by a lot of factors, and one of the most common reasons for visits to the local Wesley Chapel chiropractor. Neck pain or cervicalgia has been experienced by most people at certain points in their lives. Neck pain can be caused by a lot of factors including problems on the muscles, blood vessels, nerves, airways, neck joints as well as digestive problems. The most common of these is neck pain caused by muscle conditions.
Causes of Neck Muscle Pain
Neck muscle pain is caused by tightness and spasm of the muscles located on the neck and upper back. Specific causes of neck muscle pain include poor posture, poor sleeping position, injury or trauma, whiplash injury and the most common is overuse injuries.
Neck muscles include those in the cervical area, suprahyoid, infrahyoid and vertebral muscles. When these become strained, it causes significant pain in the neck. Muscle pain in the neck is primarily caused by muscle tightness and strain. This can result from problems on the joints, and bones specifically in the cervical vertebrae. The muscles are connected to the bones by the tendons, which causes muscle spasms when the bones are overworked. This is apparent in people who frequently perform neck motion and those with single neck positions for prolonged periods. These conditions affect the flexibility of the muscles in the neck.
The most common form of neck pain experienced by most people is stiff neck. This involves the presence of spasms on the sternocleidomastoid and other neck muscles, which limits its flexibility, thereby limiting neck joint movement. Other forms of neck muscle pain include cervicomuscular strain. This results from an overuse injury in the musculoskeletal system, which causes muscular spasms in the neck muscles.
Symptoms of Neck Muscle Pain
Neck muscle pain is primarily characterized as dull aching pain. Other symptoms may include numbness and tingling on the area, feeling of fullness, sharp shooting pain in the neck, tenderness, light headedness and dizziness. The neck also has limited movements and causes pain when the neck is rotated.
Treatment of Neck Muscle Pain
Managing neck muscle pain depends on the cause and is focused on relieving muscle spasms. Most of the treatments are conservative and it does not require invasive procedures. Treatments of neck muscle pain include:
- Administration of muscle relaxants
The main treatment of neck muscle pain is the administration of medications that help the muscles relax and decrease tension in the area. Cyclobenzaprine is a popular muscle relaxant used to manage neck pains.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be taken to reduce pain. Other NSAIDs are also in the form of topical ointments that can be placed on the neck area for localized analgesic effect.
- Neck immobilization
During the acute phase of injury, the neck is immobilized to prevent further strain on the muscles during movement. When pain is relieved, neck exercises are usually performed to enhance muscle flexibility in the area.
- Hot and cold applications
Hot compress can be placed in the area to relax muscles and reduce strain. On the other hand, cold packs reduce inflammation in the area, thereby reducing pain sensation.
Other serious causes of neck pain such as malignancy and spinal conditions may require the performance of surgery. Most of the cases of neck muscle pain may resolve in days or weeks. More severe cases can become chronic and would require more aggressive interventions.