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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Neck Problems and Injuries
Most people will have a minor
neck problem at one time or another. Our body movements usually do not cause
problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and
tear, overuse, or injury. Neck problems and injuries most commonly occur during
sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, or projects around the
Neck pain may feel like a "kink," stiffness, or severe pain.
Pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back, or arms, or it may cause a
headache. Neck movement may be limited, usually more to one side than the
other. Neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull
into the shoulders. The neck includes:
Neck pain may be caused by an injury to one or more of these
areas, or it may have another cause. Home treatment will often help relieve
neck pain caused by minor injuries.
Neck pain is
often caused by a strain or spasm of the neck muscles or inflammation of the
neck joints. Examples of common activities that may cause this type of minor
Minor neck injuries may
result from tripping, falling a short distance, or excessive twisting of the
spine. Severe neck injuries may result from whiplash in a car accident, falls
from significant heights, direct blows to the back or the top of the head,
sports-related injuries, a penetrating injury such as a stab wound, or external
pressure applied to the neck, such as
Pain from an injury may be
sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury.
Acute injuries include:
Emergency care is required for a neck injury that causes
damage to the spinal cord. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include loss of
movement or feeling, numbness, tingling, difficulty controlling the muscles of
the arms or legs, and loss of bowel or bladder control.
may not be related to an injury.
Treatment for a neck problem or injury may
include first aid measures, physical therapy, manipulative therapy (such as
chiropractic or osteopathic), medicine, and in some cases surgery. Treatment
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
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Home treatment may help relieve
pain, swelling, and stiffness related to a neck problem.
Do not smoke. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood
supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Other home treatment may help for problems that are
related to neck pain, such as:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
To help prevent neck pain caused by posture or body mechanics:
To help prevent neck pain caused by your sleep habits:
Other prevention tips:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
November 19, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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