Our neck and shoulders consist of muscles, nerves, bones, veins arteries and the supporting structures. Pain around this area can be caused by a wide range of conditions some life-threatening while others are not that dangerous. Some possible causes of neck and shoulder pain are an injury to the soft tissue, broken collarbone and bursitis. Some people only experience shoulder or neck pain while feeling pain in both areas. Regardless of whether you are experiencing pain in both areas or not, know the signs, how to care for and seeking treatment fast is crucial.
Sometimes our bodies report pain in a somewhat confusing way; an aching neck my signal a shoulder problem and vice versa. Pain in these two areas overlaps so commonly that some people call it neck pain. The reason is your shoulder is intimately connected to your neck by several nerve pathways. So, when an injury occurs you brain can’t precisely trace that pain pathway to the source. So how can you tell if your pain relates to your neck or shoulder? By paying close attention to the sighs
Signs of shoulder pain
- Your shoulder aches and feels dull
- Radiates towards the upper arm, not past the elbow
- Develops on your shoulder or outside your upper arm
- Occurs when lifting or when you attempt to reach behind your back or overhead
Signs of neck pain
- Radiates past your elbow
- Electric like tingling, stabbing or burning
- Pain disappears when you support your neck
- Radiates towards your shoulder blade
What is the best treatment for neck and shoulder pain?
Immediately the pain starts making your uncomfortable make an effort to be as active as possible. Walk a lot, maintain your routine activities and go to work. Most neck and shoulder pains are not serious and increasing your activity will eradicate it within one week. However, if you are experiencing moderate pain, try the following home remedies.
- Take over-the-counter pain relief tablets
- Apply ice or heat. Use ice the first day before switching to a hot water bottle
- Remain active but be sure to avoid high-impact workouts.
- Move your head slowly from one side to another to gently stretch the muscles.
- Use a home massager or you can let your partner massage the painful area gently.
Treatment of acute neck pain
Short term pain can be treated using manual chiropractic or physiotherapy treatment alongside pain-relieving medication. However, for long-term pain (lasting more than three months) your physician may recommend one of the following;
- Chiropractic treatment
- Intensive muscle treatment
- Physiotherapy that includes the use of supportive pillow and advice on posture
- Acupuncture, which treats a wide range of neck and shoulder pains, although not widely available.
Tips on how to relieve neck pain
Sit squarely at your workplace or behind the steering wheel. Ensure your screen is at eye-level, and steering wheel and keyboard close.
Use only one pillow at night. Using two or more forces your head up making you sleep in an unnatural angle.
Stretch your shoulders and neck on regular basis. Tilt your head to one side as you drop the opposite shoulder.
While most neck and shoulder pains disappear after a short while doing nothing (failing to increase your activity and not exercising) will make it worse. So, take action immediately you notice a discomfort around this area. If you are lucky not to have developed it yet, adopt the above tips to prevent its onset. If the pain starts after being involved in an impactful accident seek urgent medical attention.