Neck pain is fairly common in adults. Most of us will experience it at least once or twice during our lifetimes. The good news is that neck pain is usually non-specific. In other words, there is no known cause. Non-specific neck pain is usually not serious, either. It starts unexpectedly and goes away on its own.
A person suffering from persistent neck painmay not be suffering from a non-specific problem. In fact, it is often possible to discover the underlying cause of persistent pain. The most common causes I am familiar with as a rheumatologist and fibromyalgia specialist are fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Fibromyalgia painis a unique form of pain that is often hard for patients to describe exactly. Sometimes the pain feels like a general achiness in the muscles and bones. Other times it feels like the patient has pulled or torn a muscle. Still other times the pain is described as a hot, burning, stabbing sort of pain.
Patients normally experience each of the different types of pains to various degrees and at different times. Fibromyalgia pain can occur in the neck, in relation to both the muscles and joints. And because fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, the pain it produces is chronic and persistent.
Although arthritis pain is more likely to occur in the extremities, it can occur in the neck. Arthritis pain is the result of natural “wear and tear” and, in the case of osteoarthritis, bone grinding on bone. Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis can affect the joints in the neck. As such, arthritic pain in the neck is not unheard of.
Any such pain will be similar to the pain experienced in other joints. It may become more persistent in the neck due to the natural tendency to not want to move the head when experiencing pain. Believe it or not, immobilizing the head due to neck pain is often the wrong thing to do.
Treatments for Neck Pain
If you are experiencing neck pain for which you have no explanation, give it a few days and see if it improves. If it persists for more than a week or so, it is time to see a GP. Over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs are generally the treatment for non-specific neck pain.
Should your GP suggest arthritis or fibromyalgia, the next step is to see a specialist. Perhaps you have already started asking yourself, “is there a rheumatologist near me accepting new patients?” If you live in London, the answer is yes. You can contact my Harley Street office and schedule an appointment.
Getting back to treatment, fibromyalgia neck pain is typically treated with medications, moderate exercise, and a variety of behavioural therapies. It may be necessary to treat your pain in conjunction with other fibromyalgia symptoms.
Neck pain caused by osteoarthritis is treated with medications and exercise. The medications prescribed are linked to the severity of the pain and the amount of existing joint damage. Each arthritis case has to be taken at face value for both diagnosis and treatment.
Again, please do not hesitate to contact my Harley Street office if you are suffering from persistent neck pain. Your pain could be non-specific and self-correcting. On the other hand, there might be an underlying condition in play. The best way to know for sure is to be looked at by a rheumatology specialist.