Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture — whether it’s leaning into your computer at work or hunching over your workbench at home. Wear-and-tear arthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
Rarely, neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Seek medical care if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands or if you’re experiencing shooting pain into your shoulder or down your arm.
Neck pain can result from a variety of causes, including:
Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over a steering wheel, often triggers muscle strains. Even such minor things as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
Worn joints. Just like all the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to undergo wear and tear with age, which can cause osteoarthritis in your neck.
Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can take up too much space and press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injuries, which occur when the head is jerked backward and then forward, stretching the soft tissues of the neck beyond their limits.
Diseases. Neck pain can sometimes be caused by diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.
Neck pain can be sharp, stabbing, shooting, throbbing, diffuse across the entire neck, centralized to a specific region, bilateral or unilateral. The specific symptoms often depend on the underlying cause for headache.
If the pain is secondary to muscle spasm, trigger point injections can be beneficial. Cortisone injections can be used to treat degenerative spine conditions or nerve irritation if that is the reason for neck pain. There are various injectates besides cortisone that can be used as well including platelet-lysate, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), prolotherapy (dextrose).
Neck strain implies that a muscle in the cervical region has been injured or overworked.
Causes of neck strain can include trauma, poor posture and poor biomechanics.
Symptoms beyond pain can include stiffness, limited motion looking up and down or turning to the side.
Most neck strains get better with time and improved posture. Procedural options would be geared toward the underlying injury. For instance, if neck strain is due to an overworked, spasming muscle, calming that muscle down with an injection may provide relief.