By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published March 16, 2015, Last updated October 21, 2016
A problem that almost everyone faces these days is neck pain. One is likely to suffer neck pain at one point in time or the other in his life. After low back pain, it is the second most frequent problem of the spine. The neck pain may even extend to the shoulders, the arms and the back of the head. The present day lifestyle has got a lot to do with this.
The structure of our neck or cervical spine
Our neck is composed of the cervical vertebrae which are a part of our spine. The spine extends from the base of the head down to the tail bone. Starting from top, it is divided into the cervical spine, the dorsal spine and the lumbar spine. The cervical spine is made of the first seven vertebras. Disks are present in between the vertebras. These disks help in movement of the spine and act as shock absorbers. The ligaments and muscles support the head and allow movement. Out of the three parts of the spine, the cervical spine is the most flexible and mobile. At the same time, there is limited muscle support in the cervical area unlike the thoracic and the lumbar region where there are large and strong muscles.
Type of neck pain-acute or chronic
The pain may be acute or chronic in nature. In acute pain, the pain subsides in a matter of a few days. Acute neck pain is more likely to be due to some injury or muscle strain. It may also occur due to inappropriate posture while reading, writing, driving or working on the computer. Such acute pain is more likely to heal by itself in just a few days. Some rest and precautions are all that one needs to cure acute neck pain. Chronic neck pain is likely to last for a prolonged period of time. This may be due to a variety of reasons. Such chronic neck pain needs proper evaluation and treatment. Some correction of the posture may also be needed in most cases.
Causes of neck pain
Neck pain may be caused due to various reasons. A careful questioning and detailed history of the patient is very important to find out the cause of the neck pain. One thing that has been on the increase in the recent past has been the incidence of neck pain due to extensive computer use. It may be due to the use of personal computers or laptops or tablets or even phones. Prolonged use of these devices causes a lot of strain on the neck muscles. At times, the posture of the user may also not be the right one. This can make things even worse. More and more youngsters are these days falling prey to the problem of cervical spondylosis. This is by and large due to the extensive use of computers. There are some other causes too which are being mentioned below.
- Muscle strain- straining the neck muscles can cause neck pain. This strain may be due to lifting heavy weights or some sudden jerk as happens in a whiplash injury. The strain may also occur due to long hours of driving or watching television or prolonged computer usage. Reading in the bed while lying or in a tilted position can also cause muscle strain. An incorrect sleeping posture can also contribute to this strain and cause neck pain. Some stress or grinding your teeth very hard can also cause strain in the neck muscles. A muscle strain can also occur while exercising. Lifting heavy weights without proper warm up can also cause a strain.
- Injury- A fall or an injury to the neck muscles can also cause neck pain. This is a sudden event and anybody can be a victim of an injury or an accident. Sports injuries are also quite common. Injury may damage either the spine or the soft tissues like the ligaments or the muscles or the nerves. A severe injury can cause permanent damage.
- Degenerative causes-there is some amount of normal wear and tear that happens in the spine with age. The normal curvature of the spine tends to get straightened. The disks may also degenerate. There may be some amount of bony spur formation in the cervical spine. All these things are normal processes that occur to everyone as age progresses. But in some cases, this process tends to occur at a much younger age. This may also be expedited by a poor posture, little exercise and excessive usage of computers.
- Nerve compression- a nerve radiating from the cervical spine may be compressed by a disk protrusion or a tumor. This can cause pain in the neck, shoulders and also radiate to the arms or the head.
Symptoms of neck pain
While the most obvious symptom is pain in the neck, there may be some other symptoms that are present with the neck pain. The pain may be accompanied by stiffness in the shoulder region. One may find it difficult to turn the head sideways or look upwards. The neck pain may even radiate to the head or arms or even hands. There may some numbness of the hands or fingers. The presence of radiating pain and numbness are indicative of nerve compression. Sometimes neck pain may also be present along with lower back pain. In some cases, vertigo is also present.
Homeopathy for neck pain
The precise treatment for neck pain depends upon the cause. It is therefore important to take a detailed history of the pain, its onset, its aggravating features, any radiation and accompanying symptoms. Once the exact cause of the neck pain is understood, the treatment can be decided on. Homeopathy is very effective in treating various conditions that cause neck pain. The commonly used homeopathic medicines for neck pain are Gelsemium, Rhus Tox, Conium, Arnica, Hypericum, Kalmia and Silicea. The final choice of the medicine depends upon the reason for the neck pain and the accompanying symptoms. But whatever the cause, I have found that Homeopathy is very effective for treating neck pain. It can safely be called as the best alternative treatment for neck pain.