Regardless of our age, body aches and pains, are constantly affecting us. And often when you experience these pains, they can be a harrowing experience.

Neck pain is among the most common body aches that many people complain about. This is because the neck area holds delicate structures such as the muscles, vertebrae, and nerves. Many people attempt to ignore neck pain, which causes it to progress and develop into a chronic medical condition. Standard protocol for treatment must be employed to address neck pain.

What is non-specific neck pain?

Non-specific neck pain is also known as mechanical neck pain or simple neck pain. Although the exact etiology of this condition often remains unknown, mechanical factors such as strains or sprains in ligament, muscles and bones around the neck area are among its most common causes. The inflamed joints or facet joints between the vertebrae adds up to the pain especially during movement, thus resulting in pain.

It is estimated that two out of three people will suffer from non-specific neck pain at some point in their lives. This type of pain is often very difficult to treat because of its lack of specific underlying disease. It is also considered a major public health problem because of it has become a significant cause of disability around the world. Non-specific neck pain negatively impacts worker productivity and quality of life.

Reasons for non-specific neck pain

Aside from mechanical causes of neck pain, there are other factors that can contribute to its development that include:

  • Poor posture (such as prolonged staring or bending forward position)
  • High physical workload
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Sleep problems

Generally, non-specific neck pain occurs as an acute condition that resolves within a month with just rest and minimal intervention. However, there are also some who develop chronic, recurrent pain episodes that require further treatment. Severe non-specific neck pain may even progress and affect other body parts such as referral pain and numbness in the arm.

Symptoms of non-specific neck pain

Non-specific neck pain often starts in the neck and spreads to the shoulder and/or base of the skull. Aside from pain other symptoms of non-specific neck pain include:

  • Stiff neck
  • Grating sound when turning or bending the neck
  • Limited movement of the neck
  • Painful neck which can spread to the arms and even into the fingers
  • Sensation of ‘pins and needles’ in the arm which is due to irritation of the spinal cord

Effective treatments

Like most chronic pain conditions, nonspecific neck pain requires an integrated approach that will address all the possible etiologies of the condition. Some of the common treatment modalities include:

  1. Physiotherapy

Different types of physiotherapy are used to treat non-specific neck pain, including therapeutic massage, traction, mobilization, and manipulation of the vertebrae. These therapies help relieve pain, take pressure off the vertebrae and reduce muscular tension.

  1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy involves the use of physical stimuli such as cold, heat, light and electricity to relive neck pain. Heat and cold compresses can provide effective pain relief especially for muscle tension. Laser therapy and electrotherapy applies low-level laser and electrical impulses, respectively, to the affected muscles for relieve neck pain.

  1. Microcurrent Point Stimulation

Microcurrent Point Stimulation (MPS) combines acupuncture and microcurrent in treating chronic pain. Although the use of MPS for nonspecific neck pain still remains controversial, many sufferers have reported getting relief from their pain symptoms after MPS sessions.

In this procedure, very low level of direct current and standard protocol are employed to target the main pain receptors. This intervention results in relief from neck pain.

Aside from these treatments, some sufferers take pain medications for faster pain relief. The use of multiple therapies in the management of nonspecific neck pain is also not uncommon.