Neck pain is exceptionally common among adults, making it one of the most frequent complaints voiced to doctors. Its prevalence is due to a handful of factors, such as poor posture, injury, and overuse. In addition to being common, neck pain can also be incredibly interruptive to daily life. From enjoyable activities to simple tasks, neck pain can interfere with and drastically lower quality of life.
To help reduce this pain both in the immediate and long term, doctors turn to a variety of treatments. Some are more common than others, and the methods that benefit you will be largely dependent on your personal factors. However, some treatments for neck pain are nearly universal, including the following, making them the go-to options for many suffering from neck pain.
For most people, avoiding more invasive neck pain treatments like injections, prescription drugs, and surgery is a top priority. Thankfully, physical therapy is often highly effective, reducing neck pain and teaching patients how to prevent it from reoccurring.
In its most basic form, physical therapy for neck pain involves working with a doctor or therapist to learn proper neck posture, correct any negative postural habits, improve neck alignment, and both stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck. Together, these physical activities build a healthy, stronger, more pain-free neck.
Physical therapy sometimes overlaps with other treatments, such as pain management through heat and ice, as well as medications when necessary.
Exercise and Stretching
While similar to physical therapy, exercise and stretching are a little less hands-on. Often, a doctor will teach you some basic stretches that can be used to relax your neck, as well as increase flexibility and reduce pain. They will also show you exercises that strengthen your muscles—a key to neck pain prevention in the future.
If your neck pain is mild and can be treated with this simple yet effective approach, this is a fantastic route that can benefit you for the rest of your life. For those who require more involved treatments, exercise and stretching are still excellent skills to learn for neck pain recovery and prevention.
Sometimes, neck pain is caused by a herniated disc or pinched nerve. In situations such as these, a doctor will usually try non-invasive treatments to alleviate your pain. However, if those methods do not provide the necessary level of relief, they may recommend a steroid (cortisone) injection.
This route typically provides powerful relief thanks to the anti-inflammatory nature of steroids. The reduction in swelling and pain relief provided persists for an indeterminate amount of time. Some people experience benefits for around a week, while others may enjoy pain relief for months.
This non-surgical approach to neck pain relief is more invasive than the other treatments listed here. It involves the insertion of special needles at precise points in the neck. Once they are safely inserted using X-ray guidance, the needles are used to target the nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain. This effectively reduces the amount of pain felt from the neck.
Neck pain rarely requires surgery. In the unlikely event that it does, the route taken will depend on the exact cause of your pain—something you and your doctor will need to explore and discuss before making any decisions.
For those with neck pain, even daily life can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are numerous treatments for this condition, including several that are non-invasive. If you are experiencing neck pain and want to explore your treatment options, be sure to talk to your doctor. They will be able to evaluate your pain, discuss your unique factors, and develop a treatment plan that works best for you.