Neck pain develops following an injury to the dynamic muscle stabilizers or static ligamentous structures of the neck. Chronic strain or repetitive neck injuries make up 85% of all neck pain complaints. An injury can be from excessive muscle tension or stretching as well as muscle fatigue from overuse.
Pain initially develops due to an injury or sustained abnormal posture. Continuation of poor posture exacerbates the pain. The pain initially starts in the muscles and ligaments and if the pain becomes long standing also begins to come from the discs and nerves in the neck.
• Localized or diffuse non-radiating neck pain
• Worsened with abnormal posture
• May be associated with headaches
• Usually a self-limiting condition
• Recurrent episodes of increasing frequency and intensity are possible
Other diseases that can cause neck pain include:
• Disc herniation
• Occipital neuralgia
• Soft tissue or bony trauma
• Temporomandibular joint abnormalities with referral into the neck
There are a number of treatments that can be effective. The key is determining the treatment that is right for you. Some treatments include:
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as naprosyn or ibuprofen
• Muscle relaxants
• Short term pain medications
• Limited use of a cervical collar, primarily at night
• Intermittent lightweight cervical traction to decrease muscle spasms and pain
• Physical therapy with a home exercise program focused on posture, pain control and neck range of motion
• Trigger point injections to block the reflexive spasm if 2 to 4 weeks have passed without significant improvement
• Epidural steroid injections to relive pain associated with nerve irritation
• Axofascial therapy to decrease fascial tension
Foye PM, Sullivan WJ, Sable AW, Panagos A, Zuhosky JP, Irwin RW. Industrial medicine and acute musculoskeletal rehabilitation. 3. Work-related musculoskeletal conditions: the role for physical therapy, occupational therapy, bracing, and modalities. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2007 Mar;88(3 Suppl 1):S14-7.
Panagos A. Rehabilitation Medicine Quick Reference-Spine (ed. Buschbacher R.M.) New York: Demos Publishing; 2010. p. 108-109.Swezey RL. Chronic neck pain. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1996 Aug;22(3):411-37.