Neck Pain: Causes, Symptoms and First Aid Management

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Neck pain
Neck pain

Neck pain is discomfort felt in any of the neck structures, including nerves, muscles spinal vertebra and the cushioning disks in between the vertebras. It is not an uncommon medical condition. It will be experience by most people in their lifetime and can be caused a variety of conditions, some very mild, while others can be severe, although this occurs rarely. Neck pain is often temporary and goes away even with minimal treatment.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Because neck pain is so common, a wide range of medical disorders and diseases can be of cause. However, a common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension caused by everyday activities. Some of the most common causes of neck pain are the following:

  • Poor or awkward posture while awake or asleep
  • Extreme accidents causing neck injury, such as in whiplash
  • Neck strain
  • Stiff neck
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Cervical arthritis
  • Pinched nerve
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Rare infections such as neck tuberculosis, bone infection of the spine in the neck, including osteomyelitis, septic discitis, and meningitis

What are the Risk Factors for Neck Pain?

Certain factors increase risks for encountering neck pain. The most common risk factors for neck pain include:

  • Contact sports involvement
  • Motor vehicular accidents
  • Broncho or bull horse riding

What are the Symptoms of Neck Pain?

Symptoms will vary depending on the causes. Aside from the pain felt in the neck, the other commonly associated or accompanying symptoms of neck pain are the following:

  • Dull, aching pain that is aggravated upon movement
  • Sore neck – typically described as stiff neck
  • Tingling, weakness or numbness in the hands, arms or other bodily areas (neck pain implicates involvement nerves)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Facial pain and shoulder pain
  • Pain in either the upper back or lower back

How is First Aid Administered in Cases of Neck Pain?

Most cases of neck pain and be treated at home even with minimal care. For severe cases of neck pain, especially those caused by severe trauma or injury should be brought to medical attention immediately. Emergency medical services should be called for. For mild cases, the following may be done:

  • Take over-the-counter pain medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to relieve of pain.
  • Heat or ice may be applied to the affected area. It is suggested to first ice the affected. Do not apply ice directly to skin and instead wrap it in a washcloth or towel. After icing the area for the first 48-72 hours, apply heat using hot compresses, heating pad or hot showers. It is important to not fall asleep with the hot compresses or ice pack.
  • Avoid doing strenuous physical injuries for the first few days as it may aggravate the neck pain.
  • Exercise the neck gently and massage it regularly.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress without using a pillow or using a special neck pillow.

Disclaimer: This article should not serve as medical advice or formal first aid training. To learn how to treat neck pain and other bodily pains, enrol in First Aid Courses.

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