The neck is a coordinated network of nerves, bones, joints and muscles. The primary function is to offer support to the skull while ensuring flexible movements. The overall prevalence of neck pain in the global population ranges between 0.4% and 86.8% and 33%-65% of people have recovered from an episode of neck pain in 1 year yet relapses are common.
Further, about 15% of American adults suffer from neck pain in the course of 3 months that last one whole day. It develops due to multiple reasons like muscle strain, arthritis, whiplash, cervical radiculopathy and spondylosis. Poor posture, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, acute stress or prolonged straining are other leading causes of neck pain.
Image Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/neck-pain-4014211
The global pain management market was valued at $79,448.93 million in 2021 and may be worth $120,781 million registering a CAGR of 7.39% till 2027. One of the factors that accelerated the growth of this industry is COVID’s social isolation which led to strange coping strategies. This in turn caused anxiety which resulted in neck tension and tightness. But it can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, cortisone injections and physical therapy. Surgery can also correct cervical spine issues. Below are a few tricks to manage the pain at home to keep it from traveling down.
Short Term Immobilization
A well-fitted hard collar with tapes and blocks secures the cervical spine while a backboard can protect the rest of the spine. It has a positive impact on the neurological outcome of cervical spine injuries. It takes the pressure off the neck structures. This method is helpful for anyone experienced:
- blunt trauma
- anatomic deformity of the spine
- spinal tenderness, and
- altered level of consciousness.
But get the approval of your healthcare expert before using a collar. Further, do not wear it for more than 3 hours for one to two weeks to avoid complications. Avoid equipment with large straps around the chest since it may cause respiratory troubles. The ones who have sustained a penetrating trauma and have no neuro-deficits may not benefit from a collar.
Heat and Ice Therapy
Major tension or stiffness can be relieved within only 15-20 minutes of heat therapy. Moderate or severe pain can be eased with a warm bath of between 30 minutes up to 2 hours. You can pick from either dry heat or moist heat to help with pain in the neck. Small heated gel packs, heat wraps and hot water bags are extremely effective for targeted pain management. Avoid using heat if you have an infection and sensory disorders.
Cold therapy is known as cryotherapy. It reduces the blood flow to an area that can offer relief from inflammation and subsequently lower the pain around a tendon or joint. Opt for ice packs, coolant sprays, ice massage or frozen gel packs. These should be applied as soon as you experience a feeling of sensation. No more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at once since it can damage nerves, tissues and the skin. It is not recommended if you have poor blood circulation or extremely stiff joints. It is a good idea to see the doctor.
The market size of physical therapists in the US is $46.4 billion in 2022 and is expected to increase by 6.6% in the same year. It has increased 3.4% per year on average between 2017 and 2022. There are several factors that fuel the growth of this industry. It is an extremely useful way to treat chronic pain with exercises and strengthening programs. Therapy for the neck consists of deep tissue massage, cold and heat application and electrical stimulation. It can help reduce pain and improve the supporting musculature. Damage to soft tissues and joints from whiplash can also be managed with physical therapy.
The strategies are tailored as per individual existing conditions and cases. The neck posture can be improved to better support the spinal cord and become more pain resistant. The muscles are also reconditioned which prevents the recurrence of painful spasms.
Alternative therapies include acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, massages and chiropractic treatment. Get these done via a licensed professional only to be in safe hands and avoid bruising or skin changes through the course of the treatment.