Stiff Neck: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

by Administrator 24. December 2016 09:01

The cervical spine consists of bones, cervical vertebrae and muscles. Due to overuse or maintaining a poor posture for prolonged periods, the muscles in the neck may become stiff and painful. This may result in limited motion and severe discomfort. The symptoms may last from a few weeks to months depending upon the severity and lifestyle of the patient. In some cases, the pain may radiate to arms, upper back and shoulders.

Causes

  • Slouching in the chair while sitting
  • Keeping the head hung forward while staring at a computer screen
  • Sleeping in an improper position
  • Using a pillow that is either too hard or soft
  • Neck injury due to an automobile accident
  • Falling from a height
  • Conditions like Osteoarthritis, Herniated Disc or Bone spurs
  • Infection in the cervical spine

Symptoms

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Headache
  • Inflammation in the neck and shoulder muscles
  • Bruising due to an injury
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness in the neck muscles

Diagnosis

The doctor may ask the patient to describe the extent of pain and its location. The patient may explain if he is experiencing pain in the shoulders, arms or the upper back. The patient’s daily schedule may be noted such as if he uses a computer for prolonged periods, or suffered a neck injury.
A physical exam may help the doctor to check for muscle spasms. He may palpate the neck as well as shoulder and ask the patient to move the head to examine the range of motion.
A cervical X-Ray or an MRI scan may be conducted to detect fracture, bone spurs, slip disc or damaged muscles.

Treatment

Non Surgical Treatment

  • Rest: The patient may be advised to refrain from any type of activities that may lead to pain and stiffness. These may include sports or heavy-weight lifting.
  • Exercises: The doctor may suggest some stretching as well as strengthening exercises that help to condition the muscles, improve flexibility and allow smooth movement of the neck.
  • Medication: NSAIDs and pain relieving medicines may be prescribed. Certain topical medications may be recommended to relieve pain. Steroid injections may be administered in severe cases.
  • Cervical Pillows: They may help to realign the spine, support the neck and improve the symptoms of Stiff Neck.

Discectomy: The procedure involves removal of a damaged disc from the cervical spine. To fill the gap and regain stability of the neck, the doctor may perform spinal fusion or insert an artificial disc. In case the pain is caused due to a bone spur, it may be surgically removed to provide relief.

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