There are few parts of your body more important than your neck.
Sure, it could be argued that every part of the body has an important function and therefore any injury is problematic. But when your neck is hurt, you’ll know it – and you won’t likely be able to ignore it.
When you have a serious neck injury, your short-term and long-term mobility will be put in jeopardy. This is why it is important to understand the type of neck problem you’re facing as well as what treatments are available.
Today we’ll discuss neck injury types and their sources, as well as what to do in order to manage these problems.
Categorizing Common Neck Injury and Pain Types
When we feel that bit of tension or pain or stiffness in our neck, it’s often enough to slow down our entire day.
We rarely think about it, but there are a lot of problems we face if we suffer from any type of neck injury. Think about how often you turn your head to look up, look down, or look to the side. Try to count the number of times you do so in the next ten minutes alone – you’ll be surprised at how often it happens.
Now imagine that every time you move your head in a certain direction you feel shooting pain or a dull ache – and imagine you’re in a situation where you have to keep your neck and head positioned in a certain way to ease the pain.
Obviously, this is a serious problem. However, there are levels to it. Let’s explore some of the common types of neck injuries and ailments a person may suffer from.
The Classic Crick in the Neck
One of the most common neck injury types out there is the old crick in the neck. It’s something that many people have suffered from and is very easy to fall victim to. This issue is characterized by a feeling of stiffness and soreness in the neck, as well as the shoulder blades and upper spine.
A crick in your neck can cause sharp pain on some occasions, but dull aches are possible as well. Neck cricks can limit your range of motion, and may also result in worsening pain if the issue isn’t treated. A neck crick can be caused by sleeping the wrong way, or in some cases, improper motion during things like exercise.
Neck cricks don’t always begin to hurt immediately. But when a person does begin to feel the pain, it is a good idea to rest immediately if possible. Apply a heating pad to the pained area, and try to maintain a head/neck position that does not exacerbate the problem. If the pain persists in spite of applying heat to the affected area, consider taking over-the-counter pain medication.
A Case of Whiplash
This could be viewed as the next step up in neck injuries in terms of severity. Whiplash is something people usually experience when they’re jarred by a sudden impact that causes their neck to move in a jerking, quick motion they aren’t prepared for.
While generally considered more severe than a crick in the neck, whiplash is the kind of neck injury that can cause serious pain and tenderness far beyond what you’d feel if you simply slept wrong. Muscles may feel tight and knotted, and you may even feel headaches near the base of your skull that tend to radiate upward.
Whiplash can lead to more serious issues if not treated. Nerves and tissue may become damaged, requiring serious procedures to repair. As for how to treat whiplash, the solution is similar to dealing with a crick. You should start by icing your neck for a few minutes every couple of hours, and taking over-the-counter pain medication if necessary.
If the issue remains serious, it may require you to apply moist heat to the affected area or even wear a neck brace. And when your neck injury persists, it is always a good idea to get the opinion of your physician. Whether they prescribe rest or surgery or something in between, it is wise to make sure you get a medical professional’s diagnosis.
Diseases Affecting Tissues and Body Parts
There are certain diseases that can affect the esophagus, lymph node, and other aspects of the body in and around the neck. When we think of a neck injury, we usually picture sprains, cricks, and even fractures – stick around to hear about the latter.
However, there are many diseases that can affect the tissues and glands around the neck. Some of these diseases can cause swelling and inflammation, while others can cause these parts of the body to degrade and struggle to perform their intended function.
If you suffer from any of these issues, you’ll likely have difficulty swallowing or notice your neck is sensitive to the touch. While burning and irritation are possible, you’re more likely to notice a dull ache instead.
The best course of action for these types of issues is professional medical treatment. Even if you don’t know for certain whether you’re being affected by a disease that targets the neck area, it is wise to visit your physician and have them run tests just in case. Treatment can require anything from prescription medicines to surgical procedures.
Severe Issues Like Fractures and Breaks
In most cases, when you suffer a serious injury to the neck that fractures or breaks certain bones in it, it requires some type of serious accident. Usually, these types of neck injuries result from car accidents, serious mishaps during sports, or other similar scenarios where high impact is possible.
While some injuries of this type can cause you to experience severely limited motor functions, others can cause shooting pain similar to a very severe case of whiplash. In any case, when there is a fracture or break in the neck it is very important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
X-rays will be needed to see the full scope of the damage, and surgery may be required to repair the issue. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get off with simply wearing a brace, but in other cases, you may need surgery to remove bone fragments, mend bones, or both.
Neck fractures and breaks can completely disrupt a person’s life, so these are easily some of the most severe types of neck injuries you could sustain. If this happens to you, don’t wait – seek treatment from a professional immediately.
How to Prevent a Neck Injury: Guarding Your Body from Harm
In many cases, neck injuries happen as the result of accidents. There’s no way to guarantee you won’t ever experience any type of neck pain.
Accidents happen, and in some cases, they can occur even at no fault of our own. We may simply be minding our own business when we’re struck either on our feet or inside a vehicle by some type of outside force. It can happen on the highway, in the gym, on the sports field, or even on the sidewalk.
But the best way to take care of your neck, even if it is already damaged, is to take the necessary steps to prevent further harm. As mentioned, we move our neck so often it is easy to reaggravate a minor injury and cause more serious harm. Rest, application of heat or ice, medication, and professional medical treatment are all recommended in the appropriate cases to help prevent serious long-term damage to the neck.
If you’re playing sports or lifting weights, or participating in any type of rigorous physical activity, you risk damaging your neck severely if you don’t use proper technique. Always remember the neck is a sensitive area. It requires plenty of rest and treatment if it is injured, but the best way to avoid injury is to never push your neck beyond its limits.
You may not be able to avoid a crick every now and then or even some lymph node swelling if you get sick, but being careful (and a little lucky) can help you avoid a serious neck injury. Just remember that treatment is available no matter the severity or scope of your neck pain.