Our Yale Neurosurgery New London team, led by Dr. Patrick Doherty, is well-known for providing top-level care that offers the most effective solutions for back and neck pain. Although Dr. Doherty specializes in intricate spine surgeries, he aims to treat you with the most conservative therapies available whenever possible.
Fortunately, although it’s quite common, neck pain related to muscle strain often improves with rest and a few simple home remedies.
Why is muscular neck pain so common?
Your neck has more than 20 muscles that attach your head to your torso. These muscles provide stability whenever you twist, tilt, or turn your head. They’re also actively engaged whenever you lift your head or tuck your chin. Neck muscles also support the 12-pound weight of your head and assist with chewing and swallowing. They also help with breathing by lifting your upper ribs when you inhale.
Unfortunately, the constant demand on your neck muscles makes them vulnerable to injury. Poor sitting posture at work and whiplash injuries that strain muscles, tendons, and ligaments are common causes of neck pain. Reading in bed, using the wrong pillow, or falling asleep with your head in an awkward position can cause that early morning “crick” in your neck that indicates a muscle strain.
How do you treat a neck strain?
Home remedies to try for neck pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Cold packs, 15 minutes several times daily for the first 48 hours, to reduce inflammation
- Warm packs to the neck starting two days after the initial injury
- Gentle stretching and neck rolls after the initial pain lessens
Our team recommends that you take a warm shower or use a heating pad to relax tight muscles before stretching.
When should you see a doctor for neck pain?
If your symptoms don’t improve after a few days of home care or your pain prevents you from resting, schedule a visit with us at Yale Neurosurgery New London.
Also, make an appointment if your pain intensifies or changes in character, i.e., you develop shooting pains in your shoulders, numbness in your arms or hands, or other signs of nerve compression.
After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Doherty may recommend physical therapy, pain medication, or other nonsurgical therapies, such as steroid injections, to relieve your discomfort.
He may also obtain diagnostic imaging studies to rule out a herniated disc or degenerative changes as the source of your pain. In that case, you may benefit from minimally invasive surgery if conservative treatments don’t adequately control your symptoms.
Schedule an evaluation today by calling the Yale Neurosurgery New London office.