Cervicalgia is the pain located in the back of the neck, over the cervical spine. This is one of the most frequent causes of consultation both in the emergency services and in the visits to the attending physician or the traumatologist.
There are multiple diseases that can lead to pain in the cervical spine, but the three most common causes are osteoarthritis of the last cervical vertebrae, traffic accident and sports injuries, and diseases that involve muscle contracture.
The treatment of cervical pain aims to eliminate it and decrease neck stiffness.
80% of cervicalgia usually improve in less than three weeks, regardless of the treatment applied.
Something that it is worth mentioning is that the patient’s psychological and social problems can cause cervical pain very frequently. These factors seem to influence cervical spine problems more than those in other regions of the spine. Frequently, the origin of the pain is caused by job dissatisfaction, family problems, emotional problems or depression. The treatment of cervical spine problems should be based on two pillars, medication and rehabilitation.
Pharmacological treatment focuses on the consumption of non-steroidal analgesics and anti-inflammatories, as well as the treatment of muscle contracture with muscle relaxants.
The rehabilitation treatment has several functions such as improving pain, recovering mobility of the neck and enhancing the muscles of the region:
-When the pain is very acute, bed rest is recommended for one or two days, until the discomfort subsides a little.
The use of the cervical collar is controversial, there are specialists in favour of its use, others instead are against it. The collar produces a partial immobilization of the cervical spine, largely preventing neck movement. Another function is to produce slight traction that helps relax the muscles and decompress the nerves. Its use is not recommended for more than three or four weeks because it can produce a detrimental effect since due to the immobilization of the spine a large amount of musculature is lost, with the consequent weakness and decrease in resistance that makes it impossible to perform work that minimally overloads the neck.
Types of collars
There are two types of collars. One is the rigid one that is made of a hard plastic material that immobilizes the neck very well but is very uncomfortable to wear. The other type is the soft collar, made of foam rubber, less rigid than the previous one and therefore more comfortable to wear, but it immobilizes much less.
The collar can be worn continuously or part-time. The use of the collar at night is sometimes more effective than during the day because it prevents the neck from adopting forced postures that can increase pain and contracture.
1. Avoid postures of flexion or rotation of the neck for a long time, such as reading or studying with the book resting on a very low table. These positions can be avoided by reading in seats with armrests or putting books on a lectern on the table.
2. Raise the computer or television so that the screen is at eye level.
3. Sleep on a firm mattress, although not rigid. Use soft and thin pillows, about 20 centimetres in diameter, crushed in the middle.
4. The best sleeping position is on your back or side, avoiding sleeping on your stomach.
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