Tender and sore neck or neck soreness are common complaints that many people have experienced once or more due to many causes. About 2 out of 3 people are found to have suffered from neck pain or neck soreness at some point of time in their lives. In most cases, the cause of this condition is not something serious, but a minor sprain or a bad posture. However, in some cases, the exact cause is not even identified. These cases are known as 'nonspecific neck pain'.
It is only in a very few occasions that tender and sore neck or neck soreness is a symptom of a more serious underlying problem. If the pain is accompanied by loss of strength and numbness, or even a severe shooting pain that stretches even to the hands, it is a must that you see a doctor at once. Otherwise, simple home remedies can cure the problem of tender and sore neck or neck soreness over time.
Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness and Its Mechanism
From the skull to the entire upper torso, there are a number of vertebras that make the neck. To absorb the shock that is generated between the bones, there are cervical discs in between these vertebras. To allow movement and motion and to support the neck, there are bones, muscles and ligaments. When there is an injury or inflammation or any other sort of abnormality in the neck then it can lead to tender and sore neck or neck soreness.
Symptoms of Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
Though tender and sore neck or neck soreness are quite common problem, it is important that one must understand the underlying cause behind the neck pain. Otherwise, the neck soreness and pain will relapse even after treating the neck pain completely. The symptoms can help you to identify the underlying cause behind the tender and sore neck. The common symptoms are:
- Soreness on one or both sides of the neck
- Neck Stiffness
- Burning pain in the neck
- Weakness or even numbness in hands
- Tingling sensation
- Pain around the shoulder blades
- Unintentional weight loss
- Blurred visions
- Sweats at night
- Difficulty in moving head, talking, swallowing, writing and doing other activities with hands and even walking.
It is not necessary that every person suffering from tender and sore neck or neck soreness will get all of these symptoms. However, if they do get the unlikely symptoms such as fever, nausea, sweats at night or blurred vision, chances are that the causes are more serious than you think. However, in general, a shooting pain and stiffness and soreness in the neck are the usual signs of this condition and these symptoms worsen with sitting in a same position for too long, such as while working with the computer, driving etc.
When to see a Doctor for Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness?
The usual signs and symptoms of tender and sore neck or neck soreness should subside within a few days. However, if they persist for long and some serious symptoms or signs are encountered, there are chances that the pain is associated with a more serious spine problem. These symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to light
- High fever
- Severe tenderness with neck movement
- Severe pain in the neck region
- Neck pain persists for several days without any comfort and relief
- Neck pain radiates down the arms and legs
- Weakness, numbness and tingling sensation.
All these are signs of serious spine conditions and one must seek immediate medical help to get diagnosed.
Causes of Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
The neck is a very important part of the body that is flexible and bears the weight of the head. Hence, it is quite likely that it will be vulnerable to injuries. Motion restrictions and pain can be caused by various incidents. The most common causes of tender and sore neck or neck soreness are:
- Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness Caused Due to Neck Strain: Overuse of the muscles in the neck region can trigger muscle strains. The overuse can be due to anything among the daily life activities. When muscle strains are the causes, actually the levator scapula muscle that connects the shoulder to the cervical spine is injured. These muscles are very susceptible to injuries and even simple daily activities can injure these muscles and cause tender and sore neck or neck soreness. The common activities that lead to neck strain are –
- Sleeping with the head in an awkward position
- Activities like swimming that requires the head or neck to move frequently from one side to the other
- Poor posture while hunching over the computer, reading in the bed, using smartphones, stretching back on a chair with the head hanging loose
- Gritting your teeth.
These are the usual cases behind muscular strains that lead to tender and sore neck or neck soreness.
- Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness Caused Due to Injuries: Collision, whiplash, jerk of the head backward and forward or even sports injuries can lead to tender and sore neck or neck soreness.
- Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness Caused Due to Osteoarthritis: When the joints of the neck bone or vertebrae and the cartilage between them that acts as a cushion between the bones are worn out, it can lead to neck stiffness and soreness of the neck.
- Serious Diseases That Can Cause Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness: Sometimes, tender and sore neck is a symptom of a serious health condition such as meningitis. This will come along with other symptoms such as fever, headache, prolonged pain that spreads down. It is a fatal condition and must be taken care of at once. The pain in the neck or neck soreness can also be caused by cancer of the spine, tumour in the spinal cord or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Sometimes, neck soreness can also be a symptom of heart attack. In that case, nausea, vomiting, sweating etc. will be added signs. Immediate medical attention must be sought after in those cases.
Diagnosis of Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
To make sure that the tender or sore neck or neck soreness is not a serious problem or there is no underlying serious health issue behind this, it is a must that you see a doctor without delay. The doctor will take a medical history of you and also clinically examine the condition to check how far you can move and stretch your neck, by moving the neck from side to side and forward and backward. The other tests that he will run are:
- X-ray to check for any internal injury
- CT scan for a more detailed internal image
- MRI scan for a clear image of the soft tissues and bone.
At times, the doctor might also run an EMG or Electromyography test that determines if there are any nerves that are pinched. He will insert a needle to test if the nerves are working well by determining the speed of the nerve function.
Treatment for Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
The treatment for tender and sore neck or neck soreness mostly centres on pain relievers. However, in case the cause of tender and sore neck or neck soreness is an infection, antibiotics are prescribed, as well as corticosteroid injections are also given to treat the pain. However, what can really help in getting rid of tender and sore neck or neck soreness are –
- Home remedies
- A neck collar
- Traction and other physiotherapies.
If the cause of tender and sore neck or neck soreness is a more serious one such as meningitis, AIDS or heart attack, immediate admission to the hospital is a must and the treatment will focus on the illness.
Easy Remedies to Get Rid of Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
- Bath with Epsom Salt Water Can Help Get Rid of Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness: Soak epsom salt in bath water and take a bath with this water. Epsom salts contain magnesium and sulphate. Magnesium regulates certain enzymes in the body and also helps in increasing the pain relieving chemical serotonin, in the brain. This salt can relax the mind and thus, pain will be less.
- Take a Warm Water Shower: Often, taking a shower with lukewarm water running exactly over the neck, in the area where you have the pain and soreness, can help you to get relief and reduce the neck pain. The water must run over the neck for about 4 to 5 minutes. You must hold the neck in the same position for this time, without turning the head.
- Hot and Cold Compress: Use a hot pad and an ice pack simultaneously. Use them on the sore neck for a number of times throughout the day. This can be effective in getting rid of tender and sore neck or neck soreness.
- Alternative Therapies: There are various therapies that you can access to get rid of tender and sore neck or neck soreness. These include –
- Acupuncture: This massage technique or therapy is proven to be very useful in reducing neck pain. Consult with your doctor about getting acupuncture and get in touch with a skilled acupuncture therapist who has expertise in treating tender and sore neck or neck soreness.
- Physiotherapy: A skilled physiotherapist will guide you with the right exercises that will help you in treating the tender and sore neck or neck soreness. However, of course, the exercise should be done properly; otherwise it will only add to the problem.
- Hydrotherapy: In hydrotherapy, you have to soak the neck in water to which Epsom salt has been added. You can do this in a bathtub and soak the neck for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Massage Therapy for Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness: Getting a professional massage from a massage therapist can really help in getting rid of tender and sore neck or neck soreness. As the masseurs use essential oils like tea tree, lavender or rubbing alcohol, it helps in getting comfort and in relieving the pain.
- Exercises: Proper exercise can really help in getting rid of tender and sore neck or neck soreness. There are simple exercises that anyone can do at home. These include –
- Rolling the shoulders 10 times forward and backward.
- Squeezing the shoulder blades together for 10 times.
- Stretching the head to the shoulder by bringing the ear closer to the shoulder on each side.
- Push the head backwards and hold the position for 30 seconds.
Preventing Tender and Sore Neck or Neck Soreness
Neck soreness is a common problem and may unknowingly occur at any point of time. Tender and sore neck or neck soreness caused by some other diseases may not be prevented well, but the general causes associated with a poor posture, strain in the muscle etc. can well be prevented. For that you should –
- Maintain a good posture while sleeping, sitting or standing. Stand or sit straight with the shoulders in an alignment with the hips and the ears in a parallel position with the shoulders.
- Keep changing the position and do not use the same position for long.
- Exercise the neck every day with stretching forward and backward, as well as from side to side.
- Do not cradle the phone between the shoulder and the neck.
A good posture will help you to prevent the soreness in your neck. See a doctor to make sure that there are no serious problems or complications associated with this problem in your case.