From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Orthopedics
August 07, 2018

A pain in the neck

Doug deHoll, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Spine Center
Do you ever wake up with a stiffness in your neck? What about pain in your neck that gets worse after holding your head in one place for a long time? These are typical signs of neck pain. Other symptoms of neck pain include muscle tightness and spasms, headaches, decreased ability to move your head, and difficulty sleeping.

Approximately 10 to 25 percent of people complain about having a severe neck pain episode at least once in their lives. Aging and everyday damage contribute to the commonness of neck pain, and while these causes of neck pain cannot be avoided, there are many that can. The most common causes of neck pain include:
  • Muscle strains.
  • Worn joints.
  • Nerve compression.
  • Injuries.
  • Arthritis.
“When it comes to neck pain, the earlier you act on it, the better.” said Doug deHoll, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Spine Center. He shared these home treatment options and advice:
  • Alternate ice and heat on your neck. For the first 48 hours after an injury, ice is better. After 48 hours, use what provides the best relief for you.
  • Use massage therapy.
  • Make sure you have the right pillow. As long as it is supporting your head and neck appropriately, it is considered a good pillow. There’s no study that proves an expensive pillow works better than a cheaper pillow, so as long as it supports your neck, it is okay.
  • Improve your posture at work by lowering your chair or raising your computer screen to make it more eye-level.
  • Be smart and careful when lifting. Overhead lifting puts a lot of strain on people with neck issues. If you are unsure about whether you can lift something, ask for help.
If your neck pain lasts for more than a few days, or if the pain starts radiating from your neck to your arm, Dr. deHoll says it is time to consult a physician about the next steps to take. Some of these next steps could include physical therapy or steroid injections.

If the more conservative options are not helpful, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options include cervical disc replacement, which Dr. deHoll specializes in. Much like a hip replacement, a cervical disc replacement preserves the motion in the neck.

Neck pain can be a real, well—pain; but it doesn’t have to be! Follow these neck pain treatment options to stay healthy and active.

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