Neck Pain - 10 Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who gets postural neck pain?

Postural neck pain is caused by placing the upper back and neck in a posture that puts stress on the neck. People who spend long hours in sitting positions related to activities like working on a computer, bending over documents, driving etc. are prone to this condition. Prolonged use of mobile phones is another common cause of neck pain.

4. Can massage therapy help in reducing neck pain are improve movement?

Neck pain is usually a protective reaction of the body to control nerve compression caused by movement. Massage may, in acute cases, worsen the problem.

5. What type of pillows can help to reduce neck pain?

If you sleep on your back, use a thin/soft pillow. If you sleep on your side, use a thicker pillow that fills the space between the head and the bed to keep the head from tilting down and to support the neck.

6. Are cold or hot packs better for relieving acute neck spasms?

Unlike other types of muscle pain, in the case of acute neck spasms, hot packs are generally more effective. However, cold packs can also be tried and the one that provides the most relief may then be used.

7. Should I be worried if my X-Ray/MRI shows I have "cervical spondylosis"?

Cervical spondylosis relates to wear and tear of the bones, joints and discs in the neck. It is common among those over 45 years of age. It is not a cause for concern unless it is accompanied by other problems that raise red flags.

8. Should I undergo physiotherapy or use traction if I have acute neck pain?

Gentle neck movements and exercises are not generally advised when the pain is acute, unless there are other indications of other problems. Massage and/or traction may be commenced once the severity of the pain has reduced. Complete rest of the neck is not always advised in the case of acute pain, unless there are signs of other problems.

9. Will wearing a collar help in the case of acute neck pain?

Wearing a collar for a few days when the pain is acute can help by resting the muscles and restricting neck movement. However, extended use of a collar for long periods should be avoided.

10. When should I undergo an X-Ray or MRI?

X-Rays are used to show bone changes which are normally not related to acute neck pain conditions, unless caused by accident/injury. An MRI may reveal the cause of acute pain, but, unless there are indications of other problems, it can usually wait till the acute pain has subsided.

Article by Dr. Vignesh Pushparaj MBBS, D Ortho, FIPM, AO-FISS (Asia pacific), FISS(Netherlands)
Associate Spine Surgeon,
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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