Health Matters: Help and advice about neck pain

graham hibbins
Pharmacist Graham Hibbins

Graham Hibbins, from Strachan’s Chemist in Uppermill, offers some help and advice about neck pain

YOU MIGHT think the pain in the neck is the government trying to cut funding for pharmacists… but I’ll let my boss Ian Strachan talk about that.

Actual neck pain is quite common and usually nothing to worry about. Pain or a stiff neck should usually resolve itself in about a week by taking mild pain killers.

However, if you have suddenly injured yourself such as by playing sport or have been in a car accident, have walking or co-ordination problems, loss of bladder or bowels control, or have a fever or unexplained weight loss, I would suggest you contact your GP.

There are numerous causes of neck pain, from sleeping awkwardly, poor posture and prolonged use at a computer.

Anxiety and stress can also sometimes cause tension in the neck muscles which can lead to pain.

Other causes could be whiplash caused by sudden movement of the head in a traffic accident or amusement ride. This stretches and damages the ligaments of the neck.

Wear and tear (cervical spondylosis) and pinched nerves (cervical radulopathy) can be other reasons, usually in the elderly when nearby nerves can also be squashed, leading to pins and needles. Your doctor, pharmacist or physiotherapist can explain more.

It’s best to keep active and carry on normally as best you can. Take regular pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (if permitted).

Sometimes creams or gels rubbed onto the area can offer some benefit, as can holding a hot water bottle or heat pack onto the neck to reduce pain and muscle spasms. Cold packs or even ice or frozen peas can also help.

Acute torticollis is an injury to the neck muscles when someone wakes up one morning finding their neck twisted to one side and stuck in that position. This can be due to poor sleep posture. It’s best not to use too many pillows as this can put the neck at an awkward angle. Low, firm pillows are more suitable.

Neck collars are no longer recommended as the suggestion is to keep it mobile. If your neck is stiff or twisted you can try some exercises to help strengthen your neck muscles and improve your range of movements. A good physiotherapist can offer some advice.

Next month with the weather getting warmer, hopefully, I am going to discuss ticks and lyme disease.


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