Chronic neck pain is pain or discomfort in any part of the neck that lasts for 3 months or more. It can involve your muscles, nerves, vertebrae (bones of your spine), or disks in your spine. And it can vary from person to person.
Some neck pain is due to weak or overused muscles. This type of neck pain may hurt, but it typically won’t cause serious damage to your body. Other neck pain can be a symptom of more serious conditions and will need a higher level of medical attention. If you are just starting to feel neck pain, have chronic neck pain, or have neck pain that changes, it is important to see your chiropractic doctor or physical therapist. This is especially important if your pain is severe or radiates down your arm, or if you feel numbness, weakness, tingling, or shooting pain.
What Causes Chronic Neck Pain?
There can be many causes of chronic neck pain. In many cases, chronic neck pain is caused by overworked muscles or joints. This type of neck pain often results from lack of exercise or poor posture. In other cases, neck pain is caused by an injury or another health problem.
Common causes of neck pain include:
- Poor posture at a desk
- Poor posture while driving (hunched over a steering wheel)
- Poor sleeping posture
- Grinding your teeth
- Ongoing stress or personal problems (such as money or relationship problems)
- Arthritis or other joint problems
- Strained muscle or sprained ligament
- Bone diseases, such as osteoporosis
- Nerve compression caused by herniated disks or bone spurs
- Car accidents (whiplash)
Describing Your Pain
Knowing how to describe your pain can sometimes help your chiropractor or physical therapist understand the causes of your neck pain. It can help if you are able to tell him or her:
- When you feel pain (e.g. in the morning, after work, when you move your head a certain way)
- The intensity of your pain (e.g. mild, moderate, severe)
- Which activities you think may be linked to your pain
- What makes your pain better or worse
Here are some words you can also use to help describe what you are feeling:
- Achy—This is a dull, deep pain and can be continuous or intermittent.
- Cramping—This pain comes and goes and can feel like a spasm.
- Dull—This is a mild pain that is hard to localize. It may be a feeling of pressure or tightness.
- Heavy—This pain feels like something is pulling, pushing, pressing, or squeezing your neck.
- Hot or burning—With this pain, you might feel a warm sensation in the spot of pain.
- Numbness—This is a loss of sensation or a decrease in the perception of touch.
- Sharp or stabbing—This is a sudden or intense pain in a specific location.
- Shooting—This is a pain that travels or moves quickly through your neck to other areas, such as down your arm.
- Tender or sore—This is a pain that is sensitive to the touch or feels like a bruise.
- Throbbing or pounding—This is a pain that is repetitive, beating, or pulsating.
- Tingling or prickly—This pain could feel stinging, itchy, or like pins and needles.
The more your chiropractor or physical therapist knows about your chronic neck pain, the better he or she will be at creating the most effective treatment plan for you.
Make sure to if there are any tests, referrals, or treatments that might be helpful to use along with your current treatment plan. Other treatment options may include the following dry needling, MedX, massage therapy, and stim treatment. Call us today at 480-633-8293 for a free consultation or request one online.