When you wake up in the morning and cannot tilt or rotate your neck and you feel neck pain on left side or right, it is a very painful situation. This is in the case of nonspecific neck pain. With an annual prevalence rate of more than 30%, neck pain is the fourth most common disability. Usually, neck pain remains for a few days and recovered easily but sometimes it persists for weeks and needs proper treatment. Neck pain may be the indication of underlying medical conditions especially when someone feels neck pain to shoulder. Commonly neck pain starts due to the wrong neck or head position during sleeping, or poor sitting or standing position while working on computer tables. Specific neck main is may arise due to sports injury or accident. Naturally, neck pain on left side and neck pain on right side is more in women.
Neck pain on left side or neck pain on right side can be divided into two categories depending on its position.
- Axial Neck Pain: located only on neck muscles
- Radicular neck pain: started from the neck and goes down to the shoulder and arms or towards the head
It can also be categorized on basis of severity.
- Acute: Mild pain and recovery within a few days by taking rest and a little massage
- Chronic: It can persist for more than 3 weeks and needs proper diagnosis and treatment by a professional doctor. If prolonged seek doctor checkups.
In this condition patient observe:
- Difficulty in the movement of the neck due to tightness of neck muscles
- Numbness in arms and shoulders
- Increase pain due to staying in the same posture for a long time (while driving or working)
- Neck pain that causes Headaches
Sometimes neck pain on left side is due to minor causes and one does not need to worry if it stays for a few days and recovered earlier. Common causes of neck pain include:
- Poor posture while working on a computer table or driving
- Head bending for a long time during working
- Bad head or neck position during sleep
- Osteoarthritis or age: in older age, bones get fragile and cartilage that avoids friction between bones gets damaged. So, due to increased friction inflammation started and hence neck pain.
- Sports Injury or any road accident damages neck muscles or in severe cases neck vertebras.
- Meningitis (inflammation of brain membranes),
- arthritis (inflammation of joints),
- heart attack (short breaths, pain going towards arm or jaws)
- Stress or depression
- Herniated cervical disc or disc slip
Diagnosis depends upon physical examination followed by different screening tests. Doctors physically examine the neck pain to shoulder and muscles by palpating and trying to understand the cause of the pain. Doctors also take into consideration, the age of the patient and any history of injury or depression.
Further diagnosis is strengthened through laboratory testing. Laboratory tests include:
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- CT (Computerized Tomography)
- X-Rays of cervical vertebrae
These scans are necessary to neglect any doubt of vertebral issues. These scans will tell us either pain is due to muscle strains or any other medical condition.
Commonly neck pain on left side and neck pain on right side is recovered within a few days and does need any specific treatments. Non-specific neck pain started due to poor posture during work or sleep. Neck muscle stains can start even with a small pinch of teeth. Home remedies are sufficient to reduce neck pain and return to normal movement of the neck for this kind of non-specific neck pain.
Treatments for the neck pain include:
- NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve pain
- Physical therapy to relax the muscles. Physical therapy is done by muscle stretches and moving the muscles at specific angles to relax the muscle strains.
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). In TENS therapy very low electrical signals are provided to the skin near the pain site. This small current stimulates the nerves and helps to reduce the pain.
- If neck pain is due to slipped disc, doctors have to perform surgery to get the disc back to its position. A slipped disc is called a herniated disc.
- Ice packs are placed on the pain site for a few days after that heat treatment is performed on the pain site via warm showers.
- The neck is supported with a neck collar to reduce the weight and minimize the jerks to the neck muscles.
- In severe cases, patients need to be hospitalized for further treatment. Hospital treatment is mostly required in severe conditions like a slipped disc, or pain due to cancer, cyst, or meningitis.
- Gentle Massage of the neck muscles is done by a professional and trained physiotherapist. Treatment from the quack can worsen or make it more problematic.
- A steroidal injection can be given in the case of severe pain.
Prevention and remedies
One can easily avoid nonspecific neck pain by taking necessary precautions and avoiding the risk factors involved in the onset of pain. There are the following precautionary measures that should be taken to protect you:
- Correct working and resting posture: Do not work the bending to computer table for a long time. Your head and back should be aligned straight. Avoid working in the same position for a long period.
- Take Intermittent breaks during continuous work to relax your neck muscle because the neck muscles hold the weight of your head.
- Avoid the use of mobile in bending your head down for long period. Don’t hold your mobile phone in between your shoulder and ear while calling.
- Quit smoking.
- Improve your sleeping position. Awkward position of the head and neck while sleeping is a common cause of neck pain.
When to Contact your doctor?
To protect from chronic neck pain, one should immediately contact to doctor if:
- Pain persists for a longer period
- The person feels Neck Pain to the shoulder and arms
- Neck pain is followed by headache, numbness, or tingling in the arms
These all conditions are indications of underlying serious medical conditions. If these symptoms are neglected, can proliferate and may become a serious issue like myelopathy which in later stages proves lethal for the patient. So, to prevent you, precautionary measures must be taken into account.
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