Affecting 1 in 10 Americans, neck pain can be mild and manageable or severe and distracting. If nerves are being pinched, pain may be felt in your neck area or in nearby areas such as your shoulders and arms. Learning how to identify possible causes of neck pain can help you determine when to see a board-certified spine physician in Santa Monica.
Muscle Strain or Tension
Repetitive side-to-side head movements, frequent downward glances at various devices (“tech neck”), and sleeping in the wrong position are some of the common causes of muscle strain in the neck. This type of neck pain often responds well to the application of heat or ice and other home remedies. Constant stress and anxiety can also affect neck muscles.
Progressive conditions such as degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis may result in neck pain that develops slowly and lasts long enough to become chronic. Discomfort usually becomes more noticeable over time or pain may be intermittent or aggravated by movement.
Referred to as radicular pain, nerve-related neck pain is often experienced in places other than the neck, even though the actual cause is in the neck area. Protruding (herniated) discs in the cervical spine (neck), inflammation, and a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck (cervical stenosis) are potential sources of this type of pain.
Neck pain coupled with grinding or cracking sounds is likely due to some type of injury, and you’ll want to see your doctor about it to make sure it’s not something serious. Neck pain of this nature is frequently experienced after a hard fall or a sudden twist, turn, or forward or backward thrust, such as what happens with whiplash.
Most instances of neck pain are temporary and will respond well to a little rest or the temporary use of over-the-counter medications. Not always preventable, neck pain can sometimes be minimized by doing simple neck stretches, being mindful of your posture, managing your stress, and watching how you sleep.
If your neck pain has become too intense to manage, reach out to The Spine Institute. Dr. Hyun Bae can diagnose the source of your pain and help you find the appropriate treatment. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.