Let’s take a look at neck pain.
Neck pain is common, but not normal. Causes include trauma, poor posture, muscle strain, bone abnormalities, and more, the vast majority are not serious. Diagnosing neck pain may require X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging tests, though often imaging may show abnormalities that aren’t causing any pain. Consequently, imaging is only recommended for pain that doesn’t recover in a timely fashion, is unresponsive to conservative care, or in the presence of red flag signs, symptoms or history (such as trauma, history of cancer, nightsweats etc).
Stretching, strengthening and other similar forms of exercise are often helpful, whilst encouraging normal movement of the head and neck is almost always essential. Neck braces, or devices that restrict movement are ONLY necessary when there’s a suspicion of fracture. Other treatments may include manipulation or mobilisation, pain relievers, massage, muscle relaxants, and other forms of treatment. As a rule of thumb, if the pain hasn’t (mostly) cleared up after a week, it may be time to seek further help; although an acute mechanically cricked neck can be seen sooner. Neck pain that is left for longer than a month has a worse prognosis, the longer it’s left for. Equally if your neck pain is associated with pain, numbness or pins and needles into the arms or legs, this may be a more serious mechanical condition, and require treatment earlier; whilst if it’s associated with difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should get checked over by your GP.
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