Neck pain commonly presents as a “stiff neck” and often resolves quickly, though never quickly enough. Stiff necks may result from poor posture, remaining in an awkward position, or sleeping uncomfortably. Neck pain that lasts longer or is severe, however, requires medical attention. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physiatrists, whose focus is on pain relief and restoration of function, are holistic healers as well as excellent diagnosticians. If you are suffering from neck pain, contact us for a consultation during which we will figure out the cause of your problem.
The Advantages of Using Our Rehabilitation Medicine Specialists
Our doctors are committed to nonsurgical, minimally invasive treatments. We are, therefore, open to a broad range of therapies, both traditional (e.g. physical therapy, corticosteroid injections) and complementary (e.g. acupuncture and platelet-rich plasma). We find that a combination of treatment methods is frequently the best way to provide relief more quickly and effectively. We also find that working collaboratively with our patients is the key to recovery.
Causes of Less Serious Neck Pain
In many cases, the cause of a stiff neck is unknown. Many of our patients awaken with a stiff neck or find that, for no apparent reason, a single turn of the head results in sharp pain. Neck pain can be caused by:
- Holding your neck in a strained position while studying, doing chores, working, reading, sewing, playing a musical instrument, or talking on the phone
- Sleeping without a properly supportive pillow
- Feeling stress that translates into physical tension, creating a knot (myofascial trigger point)
- Repeatedly turning your head during swimming, dancing, or looking at the sky (think planetarium) or ground for a prolonged period
In the age of computers, stiff necks are frequently precipitated by long sessions at the computer or on the smartphone or iPad without periodic breaks for stretching.
Causes of More Serious Neck Pains
Some types of neck pain are more serious. Our doctors are well able to distinguish them from a variety of stiff necks. The human neck is a complex area known as the cervical spine, containing seven vertebrae and a number of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Injuries to any of these parts of the neck may occur due to:
- Traffic accidents
- Sports injuries
- Falls on a hard surface or from a height
- Being hit on the head or neck by a falling object
- Assaults with or without a weapon
- Torticollis (wry neck), a twisting of the neck which may be congenital or acquired
- Very rarely by disease (e.g. meningitis) or a cardiovascular event
The neck pain caused by blows or accidents may result in fracture or dislocation of a cervical vertebra, an overstretching or tearing of muscle tissue, or whiplash which occurs when the neck is thrown suddenly back and forth.
Symptoms Associated with Neck Pain
In addition to neck pain, a neck injury can greatly restrict the range of motion, making it difficult for the patient to drive, converse with a person sitting beside them, lift an object, safely cross the street, or lift a baby out of a crib. Whether the injury turns out to be serious or not, such restricted mobility clearly interferes with going about your daily activities. Symptoms
associated with neck injury include:
- Pain worsened by movement
- Delayed pain that appears a day or two after an injury
- Pain and muscle spasms in the upper shoulder
- Headache in the back of the head
- Fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping
- Restricted mobility of the neck, sometimes worse in one direction than another
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling in one or both arms
- Mispositioning of the neck (torticollis)
Warning signs that your neck pain requires urgent medical attention may be:
- Severe, persistent pain in the neck and head
- Pain that radiates down the arms or legs (cervical myelopathy)
- Dizziness, double vision, jerky eye movements, slurred speech
Diagnosis of Neck Pain
In addition to performing comprehensive physical exams of our pain patients, we have several types of diagnostic imaging equipment, including:
- MRI and CT scans
- Electromyography (EMG) to detect pinched nerves
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound
We Treat Neck Pain With a Broad Range of Therapies
Home remedies can make a substantive difference when immediately used to treat neck pain, so we may recommend ice pack applications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle tightness and relieve spasms. Once the inflammation has been reduced, we may recommend moist heat to increase blood flow and promote healing.
Depending on the diagnosed cause of your neck pain, we will recommend other treatment options, often combining them to produce optimal relief and speed healing. These may include:
- Customized physical therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
- Injection of corticosteroids and analgesics under ultrasound guidance
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy
Contact Our Experienced Physiatrists for Help With Your Neck Pain
The doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine are dedicated to relieving your neck pain, whatever its cause. Contact one of our five Long Island offices so we can determine what’s wrong, bring you back to health, and restore your quality of life.