neck pain: Causes and methods of treatment

Almost everyone experienced severe neck pain. It is not necessary for this to fall into an accident or have abnormal vertebrae. Improper organization of the workplace, sedentary work, high physical exertion – these are the usual things from which the neck begins to creak first and then hurt. With age, osteochondrosis can be complicated, and the presence of diseases of internal organs can add problems to your neck. Wouldn’t it be better to start getting rid of the pain, until it became too painful?

neck pain: Causes and methods of treatmentAcute neck pain can occur suddenly, for example, when sharp turns and bends of the head. Pain can give to the head (mainly in the back of the head), chest or hands. Such phenomena are often the result of cervical lumbago (cervical) or acute muscle spasm. Purged, overworked – severe pain can last 10 days, but after it passes. If the neck pain continues for a long time, a sharp, aching or pulling neck pain does not give rest and significantly worsens the general condition – you need to seek help from specialists.

Doctors will examine the condition of your spinal cord and brain: make an x-ray, CT scan or MRI, check if the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back are not too tight (electromyography is possible – measuring muscle activity with an electrode).

Establishing the cause of neck pain can turn into the fact that you will not have to treat the neck at all. And also be prepared for the fact that exercise will be part of your daily routine.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

  • Muscle tension, stretching, which occurs due to a long stay in one position (at the computer or behind the wheel, for example), due to strong physical exertion (playing sports, lifting loads).
  • Diseases of the muscles of the neck and back. As a result of prolonged muscle tension, a myofascial syndrome can develop, in which the spasmodic muscle areas are transformed into seals, bumps, the so-called trigger points. Neck pain can also cause fibromyalgia, a chronic disease characterized by soreness and increased the sensitivity of muscles, joints, and tendons.
  • Diseases of the spine. The most common factors of pain are osteochondrosis and osteoarthrosis, that is, the wear and tear of the joints or their parts — cartilage. Osteochondrosis may be complicated by acute displacement of the joint, which makes the pain even stronger. Congenital anomalies in the structure of the spine, instability of the vertebrae, herniated intervertebral discs also cause severe neck pain
  • Immune disorders that cause changes in bone tissue: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatic polymyalgia, arthritis associated with bowel disease.
  • Spinal stenosis, in which bone structures and cartilage can put pressure on the spinal cord and roots.
  • Vertebral infections (tuberculosis, osteomyelitis) or neck organs (acute thyroiditis (thyroid disease), lymphadenitis (inflammation of lymph nodes), polio (children’s spinal paralysis), shingles, meningitis (inflammatory disease of the brain membranes), etc.
  • Diseases of the internal organs. Neck pain in such situations has the status of reflected pain, it can come from the brain, heart, esophagus, lungs, blood vessels, localizations of purulent inflammations.
  • Injuries to the spine and neck.
  • The tumor (malignant or benign) and its metastases.
  • Suffered spinal surgery.

How to treat neck pain

It is necessary to treat neck pain with drugs, with the use of drugs of different directions of action, as well as undergo a course of physiotherapy, reflexology, physical therapy, massage. Surgery is used only in severe cases.

Non-surgical treatment

1. Drug therapy

neck pain: Causes and methods of treatmentLocal anesthetics, analgesics (NSAIDs and agents such as paracetamol and Analgin), hormonal drugs (glucocorticoids), muscle relaxants (drugs for relieving muscle tension), antioxidants, and, if necessary, antidepressants and anticonvulsants can quickly get rid of neck pain. Painkillers are the basis of drug treatment, drugs of other groups are prescribed as concomitants to enhance the effect of anesthesia, relieve inflammation and edema.

Medications for neck pain are applied not only orally, but also in injections (including blockages at painful points), patches, ointments.

2. Orthopedic methods

Here we must first talk about the collar Chance, the wearing of which is usually prescribed after injuries or operations on the neck. There are two options: a stiff collar with full fixation and immobilization of the cervical region and a soft collar that supports the neck part and allows you to properly form your posture.

3. Reflexology

Various methods of electrocution on the cervical have an important therapeutic effect, especially in combination with the introduction of pain medication. These include electroacupuncture and percutaneous electro-neuro stimulation.

Acupuncture with special needles – the ancient Chinese method, which does not involve any electrical impulses – is also suitable for restoring mobility and muscle tone.

4. Low-level laser exposure (LLL therapy differently)

The light beams of the ultraviolet, infrared and red spectra gently affect the painful areas, alleviating the pain, removing the inflammation. This is one of the most effective physiotherapeutic methods to help relieve neck pain

5. Ultrasound therapy

Ultrasound itself is a good analgesic, relieves spasm, improves blood circulation, and has a beneficial effect on nerve cells.

The introduction of painkillers with ultrasound (phonophoresis) helps to deliver the drug directly to the sore spot and enhance the effect of medicines.

6. Medical massage, osteopathy, chiropractic.

Methods of manual therapy as well as possible help to relieve tension from the neck.

Osteopaths affect biologically active points, chiropractors remove subluxations, displacement, classical therapeutic massage includes manipulations to relax the muscles of the neck, stretching the spine.

7. Therapeutic exercise.

It is difficult to train the muscles of the neck as such; therefore, physiotherapists in the selection of therapeutic exercises focus on the mobility of the thoracic region, the shoulder girdle, and the even distribution of the load on the spine.

It is important not to forget about the condition of your neck after the end of treatment and pain relief. If you continue to sit bent over, with your head bowed or slightly upturned, do not take breaks at work at the computer, do not recall physical therapy lessons for at least several minutes a day – the pain in your neck will return with the same force.

Treatment with surgery

Surgery for neck pain is usually indicated with the following diagnoses:

  • herniated disk – with paresis, increasing disorders of sensitivity and motor activity,
  • myelopathy (compression of the spinal cord),
  • radiculopathy (compression of the spinal roots).

Operations are often reduced to the removal of those areas of the vertebrae that injure the spinal cord.

Methods of minimally invasive surgical treatment are being actively developed, for example, using a laser.

Surgery can really eliminate the cause of neck pain, but even with severe ailments, such treatment is rarely used because of the likelihood of complications and accidents. So, it is better not to start neck pain to the extent that you had to go under the knife.

How to quickly get rid of neck pain?

Change your lifestyle

Take a break for a few days. In most cases, pain in the back and neck occurs as a result of lifting weights, too often performing the same type of movements, unsuccessful body movements or injuries from a fall, a car accident, sports, and so on.

However, pain in the spine can develop due to sitting too much at the computer or sleeping in the wrong position – it is often difficult to understand or predict the exact cause since the human spine is too complex a system with a large number of moving parts.

  • As soon as you feel pain in your neck or back, immediately stop doing what could cause it and rest. In most cases, mild or moderate pain in the spine is significantly reduced or completely disappears in 2-3 days.
  • If the neck pain or back does not subside and lasts more than a week, this may indicate a more serious injury, and it is possible that you will need the help of a specialist.
  • Although rest is useful for most damage to the musculoskeletal system, complete immobility (strict bed rest) can worsen your condition.
  • Moderate mobility, such as unhurried walking and light housework, improves blood circulation and accelerates the healing of muscles and joints. Once an hour, get out of bed and walk slowly around the house for at least a few minutes to get better quickly.

neck pain: Causes and methods of treatmentDo light stretching exercises.

Whatever the neck pain or back, it is necessary to knead the muscles, as if they are tense, it limits the freedom of movement. Therefore, if the movements do not cause acute, penetrating or stabbing pain (which may indicate a vertebral hernia or bone fracture), a slight stretching of the sore spot will accelerate its healing. Stretching is useful for aching and tense muscles, as it helps them relax and increases flexibility and range of motion.

  • It is useful to perform light stretching exercises and movements after taking a shower when the muscles are properly heated.
  • To warm up the neck, it is good to start with the rotation of the shoulders and circular movements of the head. If you feel pain when moving, stop exercising or continue it until the pain is significant. Then go to the turns of the head (look from side to side) and bend and stretch the neck (to do this, look up and down).
  • Perform each movement a few minutes three times a day.
  • When your neck dissolves, go to the side tilts of your head, as if you are trying to bring your ear to the corresponding shoulder. Perform neck tilts in both directions.
  • Then tilt your head forward (bring your chin to the chest) and turn your head slightly to the side, as if you are looking at your foot. Hold your head in this position for 30 seconds, then turn it in the other direction, to the second foot.
  • To stretch your back, lie on a sufficiently soft surface, bend your legs and bring your knees to your chest. Clasp your legs and pull them towards you until you feel a stretch in the lumbar region. Hold your legs in this position for 30 seconds. Try this exercise 3-5 times a day.
  • Lying on your back, join your knees together and turn your legs to one side, so that your hips lie on the floor. After 30 seconds, turn your legs to the other side.

Think about changing your posture in a dream.

Although each organism reacts in its own way, some postures in a dream cause pain more often than others. For example, sleep on the abdomen is a common cause of neck pain and back, because in this position the neck is turned in one direction and the loin is stretched and strained. For spinal health, it is best to sleep on your back or on your side (in the fetal position)

  • Although many people find it difficult to overcome the habit of sleeping on their stomachs, it is worth the effort for the health of the spine.
  • When sleeping on your back, do not put more than one pillow under your head, as this can cause tension and neck pain
  • If you sleep on your back, place a small pad under your knees to take the strain off your waist.
  • When sleeping on the side, use a pillow whose thickness does not exceed the distance from the edge of the shoulder to the ear.
  • Too thick pillows lead to a bend in the neck.
  • Get a special orthopedic pillow – these pillows are designed to keep the neck in a normal position and prevent tension in it during sleep.

Home Treatment

For acute neck pain or back, apply ice to the sore spot. If a neck or back pain has recently occurred, and you feel inflammation and stiffness in a sore spot, attach a bag of crushed ice (or something cold) to it to reduce the inflammation and dull the pain. Cold compresses are most effective in treating recent injuries that are accompanied by edema since cold constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the affected area. Apply crushed ice for about 15 minutes 3–5 per day until the pain subsides or disappears completely.

  • To further reduce inflammation and swelling, press crushed ice to the sorest spot on the neck or back with an elastic bandage.
  • Before applying ice to your neck or back, always wrap it in a thin cloth – this way you will prevent irritation and frostbite of the skin.
  • If you do not have crushed ice, use ice cubes, frozen gel packs, or packs of frozen vegetables (such as peas or corn).

the cause of chronic neck pain or back, apply warm moist compresses to the sore spot. If your neck or back has been bothering you for weeks, this is a sign of chronic damage. In this case, you should avoid treating with cold and use warm moist compresses instead. Such compresses heat the muscles and other tissues due to the fact that they relax small blood vessels and increase blood flow (which contains oxygen and nutrients). Warm, wet compresses often help with chronic sports injuries and arthritis.  As such compresses, it is convenient to use small bags of grain (bulgur or rice), herbs and/or essential oils that can be heated in a microwave oven.

  • Heat the grass bag in the microwave for about 2 minutes and apply it to the sore spot on your neck or back for about 15 minutes. This is good to do in the morning or before charging.
  • Add lavender or other essential oil to the grass bag to help relieve discomfort and relax. Some grass bags are already saturated with essential oils.
  • Take a warm bath. This is another good source of heat and moisture. For best results, add 1–2 cups (300–600 grams) of
  • English salt to a bath of water — it contains large amounts of magnesium, which will help soothe and relax muscles and tendons.
  • Do not apply a dry warm compress to your damaged neck or back, such as an electric heating pad, as this can cause muscle dehydration, which will aggravate the damage

Use herbal remedies to relieve pain and inflammation. If you do not want to take medicine for pain in your neck or back, consider removing discomfort during the recovery period with herbal remedies. Creams, lotions and/or ointments with menthol, peppermint, camphor, arnica, capsaicin or lavender help relieve pain in muscles and joints, although their effect may depend on the concentration of beneficial ingredients and the method of manufacture. Rub a little money into a sore spot on your neck or back 2-3 times a day and see if this helps to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Some herbal remedies are best taken orally. For example, capsules with harpagophytum (devil’s claw) are often effective for reducing pain and inflammation in the neck with minor injuries and osteoarthritis.
  • Capsules with turmeric root also help to cope with pain and inflammation. According to studies, they are not inferior in strength to ibuprofen and diclofenac pills and have no side effects.
  • As a rule, aching pain indicates a stretching or overstressing of the muscles, while acute pain during movement often results from damage (stretching) of the joints and ligaments.

Natural remedies

Consult a professional masseuse.

Practically always, with back pain, muscles are involved in varying degrees, so getting rid of muscle tightness and spasm with the help of a professional massage is a good way to relieve pain if your budget allows it.

Deep tissue massage helps with mild and moderate sprains, as it relieves muscle spasms and inflammation and allows you to relax. Start with a 30-minute massage; you should focus on the place on your neck or back where you feel the most pain. The message should be deep enough, but it should not cause too much pain.

  • The neck massage should also include a message of the upper parts of the shoulders and the base of the skull.
  • When lumbar massage should also pay attention to the pelvic region and the upper parts of the buttocks.
  • With a neck or back pain, one massage can help, but sometimes several sessions are required, depending on the cause of the pain.
  • With acute pain, relief may come after a 30-minute massage, however, in the case of chronic pain, a longer massage is often required (up to one hour).
  • After a deep massage, always drink a large amount of purified water to excrete the substances released from inflammatory processes and lactic acid. Otherwise, the next day after the massage, headache, and muscle stiffness are possible.

Make an appointment with a chiropractor or osteopath.

These spinal specialists restore the normal mobility and functioning of the joints that connect the dorsal vertebrae.  The specialist will examine your back and try to determine the cause of the pain – whether it is caused mainly by problems with the muscles or joints. Slight compression or curvature of the joints in the neck or back, which causes inflammation and sharp pain when moving, is corrected with the help of manual manipulations (the so-called correction of the spine).

  • Usually, chiropractors and osteopaths use spinal X-rays, which allows them to better understand the patient’s condition and to carry out proper and safe manipulations.
  • Although sometimes neck pain or back is reduced after the first session, most often 3-5 sessions are required to achieve significant results.
  • In treating neck and back pain, chiropractors and osteopaths use many other methods, including massage, inversion tables, and stretching machines, ultrasound and electrical equipment (such as electrostimulation devices), which helps alleviate muscle and joint pain

Try acupuncture.

This method consists of sticking thin needles at specific points on the skin, which sometimes helps to reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture can be very effective in treating neck pain or back, especially if applied immediately when the first symptoms appear. It is based on the ancient principles of traditional Chinese medicine: when exposed to particular points, beneficial substances are released, including endorphins and serotonin, which reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture is a safe and relatively inexpensive method, and it is worth trying if other natural methods did not help.

  • Although the evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing neck pain and back is contradictory, there are many untested reports about its benefits.
  • To relieve neck pain and back, special points can be used, which are located in completely different parts of the body, for example, on the palm.
  • Currently, acupuncture is used by various specialists, including some general practitioners, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists. Check that the specialist has the appropriate certificate.

Consider trying trigger point therapy.

Sometimes muscle nodes, or trigger points, cause up to 30% of the total pain.  These nodes are sensitive areas on the neck and back. They can cause both local and spreading to other places pain (for example, a headache can be associated with a node on the shoulder or neck). Muscle nodes are treated by applying pressure to them for a few seconds.

  • Chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and even some traditional doctors can treat muscle nodes.
  • The treatment can be practiced at home with a tennis ball. Put the ball under your back or neck and roll over it until you find a sore spot. Hold this position for a few seconds or until the pain diminishes. After that, go to another sore spot.

Consider using relaxing techniques and activities.

It was found that such relaxing methods as meditation, deep breathing, biofeedback, positive imaging, and Tai Chi help with a wide variety of pains in muscles and joints, and even often prevent damage and injury. Yoga is also a great relaxing technique. Yoga classes include special movements and postures, as well as breathing exercises.

  • Yoga poses help to stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture, although you may have to change some postures somewhat if they increase pain in your neck or back.
  • Find out where in your city you can sign up for yoga classes or other useful techniques. To this end, you can contact the local hospital, community center, as well as fitness centers.
  • Representatives of alternative medicine, such as massage therapists, chiropractors, and acupuncture specialists, can give you a lot of useful information about the various mind and body training techniques listed above.


Although treating back pain with natural remedies for most people means not taking medication, it is sometimes helpful to take anti-inflammatory (for example, ibuprofen) or pain-relieving (for example, paracetamol) drugs for a short time.

Quit smoking: smoking has a negative effect on blood circulation, which leads to the impoverishment of muscles and other tissues with oxygen and nutrients.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. June 17, 2019

    […] severe pain around the neck […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: