One of the most common complaints that patients present to a doctor is a neck strain and pain in shoulder muscles. It are a common condition, and affects all of us at some or the other. Although it does not require any complicated treatments, it is best to be well aware of the causes and symptoms of this condition, to be able to cure it effectively.
Causes and Symptoms
It is not uncommon to strain the neck while sleeping, especially if a person has suffered from a previous trauma to the neck region. However, this can also occur in cases of people who do not have a history of neck injuries. Cases of strained neck while sleeping are common because when we sleep, we often tend to remain in one position for a long period of time. If this position is putting strain on the neck, then the muscles can spasm. This spasmodic activity of the neck muscles can lead to nerves or blood vessels getting pinched or pulled, which further leads to pain and stiffness in the neck. At times, ligaments or tendons can also get stretched and pulled, if the position we sleep in is applying any kind of continuous strain on them.
At times, using a pillow that is too flat or too thick can also lead to this. There are many aggravating and contributing factors that can worsen the condition. These include stress, sudden change in pillow or mattress, sleeping on the couch, sleeping with the air conditioning on (which can cause contraction of the neck muscles), etc.
The symptoms include stiffness and pain in the neck and back region. There may even be referred pain in the shoulders, or in some rare cases, the upper and lower back. The person may even complain of changes in pain perception in the arms and legs, or a headache, which is indicative of a possible pinched nerve in the neck.
How to Deal With Strained Neck Muscle Pain
If a person has hurt his neck, then the best thing that he can do is take adequate amount of rest. Lie back, and place an ice pack around the painful region for about half an hour. Do this four times a day, for two consecutive days. After two to three days, use gentle heat to relax the area, and to get the blood flowing again in this region. However, don't overdo this as it may lead to soreness of the region. Try and flex your neck after a few days so that it can come back to normal as soon as possible.
You can try and restore the neck's mobility by warming the neck region for ten minutes. Some amount of light aerobic activity may also help to loosen the muscles. There are some simple neck exercises which can help relieve the pain. One such exercise that you can do while sitting erect involves tilting your neck forward until you feel that it is stretching. Stretch your neck sideways as well. Hold each stretch for about thirty seconds, repeating this procedure five times. This may lead to a certain amount of discomfort initially, but it will help ease the muscles.
In the end, it is imperative that you visit a doctor and get your condition diagnosed, because if the pain persists it may be indicative of a more severe injury, which may lead to dire, irreversible damage, if left untreated.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.