Pain for days vs. pain for weeks
Distinguishing between pain caused by a strain and by a more serious condition can be tricky. Neck strains and cervical spine disorders, such as degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis, are all capable of causing neck pain that ranges from dull and mild to severe and debilitating.
One key factor to note is how long the pain has lasted. Most neck strains start to feel much better within a few days or a couple of weeks. Underlying cervical spine disorders tend to cause pain that lasts longer than a few weeks, comes and goes and may gradually become worse
Local vs. radiating pain
The location or movement of the pain can also be a distinguishing factor between a neck strain or an underlying cervical spine condition.
Neck strain pain is mostly felt on the site of the damaged soft tissues. Occasionally, the pain may be referred further up the neck or down to the top of the shoulders. But for the most part, neck strain pain stays local.
Pain from a cervical spine condition, however, can potentially radiate down the arm and even into the hand. This radicular pain occurs due to a spinal nerve root that has become compressed or inflamed, such as from foraminal stenosis or a herniated disc. When nerve root compression results in neurological deficits, such as numbness or weakness, it is called radiculopathy.
Radicular pain that goes into the arm may feel searing or shock-like, or it could feel achy or tingly. While radicular pain is usually felt on just one side of the body, it can occur on both sides.
Repeatable Neck Cracking
Most neck cracking and grinding sounds are normal and do not indicate any type of problem. When specific neck movements always result in a cracking or grinding sound, that could indicate bone on bone grinding and may be more serious. For example, if rotating your head to the left always produces a clicking or grinding sound, an injury or chronic condition such as osteoarthritis may be the cause.
When to See a Chiropractor for Neck Pain
1. If you are not experiencing any improvements in the pain or stiffness in your neck after a few days.
2. If you feel a sharp or sustained pain in your neck when you move it to look left, right, above or downward.
3. If you are using over the counter pain medications on a regular basis, because you cannot get through the day without them. Being in that much pain is not normal.
4. If you fear that your neck pain may be the result of a more serious condition or incident.
5. If the pain was initially contained in your neck, but now you are feeling some tingling or numbness in your wrists, hands or other parts of the body.
6. If you were in a car accident and the neck pain began a couple of days after that event.
7. If you feel as though the pain in your neck is at its worst when you wake up, but it gets a bit better as you go through the day.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with us for neck pain. Our Chiropractors will make an assessment and discuss treatment options with you. The techniques they employ are ideal for those who suffer from short or long-term pain.