Neck pain can be debilitating, making life miserable to the unfortunate person who is desperate for any small sign of relief. Whiplash injuries, torticollis, (from the Latin, meaning “twisted neck”- a condition which sometimes appears suddenly, in some cases without a pre-occurring injury of any kind. It is defined by the inability to turn the head without suffering intense neck pain, or even a complete inability to turn the head. Torticollis can be acute or chronic.) tension related neck pain and cervical disk or vertebral injury are common causes of ongoing neck pain.
Finding Alternatives To Medications With Harmful Side Effects
Though pain medications can be very helpful when struggling with neck pain, finding yourself taking opiates or steroid medications to ease pain symptoms can become a bigger problem than the neck pain.
Opiates are famously addictive, and tragically difficult to get away from once someone is physically and emotionally addicted. An alarming number of IV opiate addicts began their seductive relationship with Heroin because of a fairly minor injury that was treated with a prescription for pain medication that contained comparatively mild doses of opiates, such as Tylenol #3 or Vicodin.
Occasionally, neck pain is treated with corticosteroids. Though steroid medications such as Medrol Dose Pack or Prednisone do effectively help treat inflammation and pain, long term use of steroids unleashes a terrifying list of potential issues. Females can develop facial hair, and males can develop feminine-like breast tissue. A condition called “Moon Face” is common: essentially the face fills out into a fleshy, rounded shape, distorting the person’s true facial features.
Scarier yet, steroids wreak havoc on the internal organs and biological functions in ways that make the visible signs seem like no big deal. Hardened arteries, retention of excess bodily fluid resulting in rapid weight gain and the pooling of edema in the extremities and abdomen, lowered immune response, and high blood pressure are just a few of these effects of long-term use of steroids.
When NSAID drugs came on the market, they were a godsend for many with musculoskeletal pain, and remain to be a very effective, non-addictive, low-cost treatment for a multitude of problems. However, if you suffer from any kind of GI bleeding, ulcerations in the GI tract, or GERD (Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease), the use of NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin can exacerbate those problems and cause life-threatening bleeding in the GI tract, or result in ulceration in the esophagus that can quickly become cancerous.
Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Treatment
If pharmaceutical treatment is not an option for you or is not an appealing option, seeing a Chiropractor or a D.O. who does adjustments is a great second option. There are some who are apprehensive regarding having the neck, in particular, adjusted: seeing the risk of potential injury to be too great to proceed. That said, finding a Chiropractor or a D.O. who comes highly recommended by the public or your own doctor can be a life-changing decision for some sufferers of chronic pain, especially when chronic pain is originating from the spinal column, involving pinched or impeded nerve pathways.
X Rays are generally taken, and manual adjustments are made to the spine in an attempt to re-align the vertebral column, which can release pressure from soft tissues, which can be key areas of nerve irritation and pain.
Easy Stretches For Neck Pain
Stretching to achieve a goal of full-range of motion is a helpful way to relieve neck pain that is not affected by a history of spinal cord injury or any type of vertebral fracture or prior repair of the vertebrae. This exercise can be performed sitting on an exercise disk:
- Slowly and carefully lower your ear toward your shoulder as much as you can. Use your hand to provide very slight traction to aid the muscles in stretching. Do not force the movement, and only do as much as you can without causing yourself increased pain. Hold your head in this stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release
- Repeat this on the other side of your head. Remember to provide only very slight traction, and do not force the movement.
- Repeat these stretches from side to side for several repetitions
- Now tilt your head back, gazing toward the ceiling or the sky. Hold this stretch as long as is comfortable.
- Roll the head from the facing down to the chest position to the left side (using slight traction, once again, if it is more comfortable), then to the looking up at the sky position, then to the right side (using slight traction if needed)
- Roll your head in this way counterclockwise for 10-15 seconds
- Repeat this rolling motion, but this time starting to the right side and moving clockwise. Roll your head, as before, clockwise, for 10-15 seconds
Do not continue if you have any increased pain while performing this stretching exercise. It is intended to increase range of motion, loosen tightened muscles, increase blood flow to the area, and to help relieve stiffness and pain.