Neck pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint, and it's often caused by sleeping awkwardly or hunching over a computer for too long. Poor posture can play a role in the development of neck pain, but there are also more serious causes of the complaint. Neck pain that lasts for more than a couple of weeks should be investigated, as there may be an underlying condition causing the pain and you may need treatment to resolve the complaint. Read on to learn about three conditions that can cause neck pain.
A Herniated Disc
There are soft, spongy discs between each vertebra in your spine. They act as cushions and protect your vertebrae from rubbing against each other. When one of these discs moves out of position in your neck, it can irritate a nearby nerve and cause localised pain. Common causes of discs herniating in the neck include improper lifting of heavy objects, trauma and wear and tear due to the natural aging process. A herniated disc can be treated with anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, physiotherapy to strengthen the neck and surgery to remove the part of the disc that's protruding beyond the vertebrae.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Repetitive strain injury affects the muscles of the neck, making them tight and stiff. There are a number of factors that can lead to you developing repetitive strain injury including engaging in high-intensity exercise and persistent poor posture. Those with jobs requiring repetitive movements, such as typing, swiping items at a checkout and picking items on a production line, are at an increased risk of developing repetitive strain injury affecting the neck. This condition can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, a neck brace for support and massage to loosen tight muscles. You may also benefit from physiotherapy to strengthen the neck muscles and improve your posture.
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that's caused by wear and tear to your joints. Moving around in your day-to-day life causes low-level damage to your joints, and as you age, the cartilage that protects the ends of your bones when you move your joints begins to break down. When this happens to your neck, you will experience pain, stiffness and inflammation. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but treatments can prevent it from worsening and bring relief from the pain it causes. Treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain, the use of supportive collars or splints, targeted neck exercises or surgery to repair or replace damaged joints.
If you're experiencing persistent neck pain, make an appointment with a doctor to determine the cause.