Dealing with Tension Neck Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Home Remedies

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Tension Myositis Syndrome – also known as tension neck syndrome – is a condition that affects the neck and back. This condition causes psychogenic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms including stiffness, inflammation, and pain in the neck area.

The neck or cervical spine is comprised of a vertebra that extends from the upper torso to the skull. This disc absorbs shock and pressure between the bones. Bones, ligaments, and muscles work together to allow the head to move. Inflammation, muscle stiffness, or injuries can lead to tension neck syndrome.

Unless neck pain is caused by trauma or an accident, neck pain is not a serious condition. But if the pain worsens within a few weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Causes of Neck Pain

Stressed or stiff muscles typically cause neck pain. The muscles become stressed or stiff from poor posture, prolonged sitting, sudden jerking during exercises, sleeping in a bad position, or injuries. The neck is vulnerable to trauma, especially in sports, car accidents, or falls. When the neck ligaments and muscles are forced to move outside their normal range, inflammation and pain occur.

Dislocated neck vertebrae, fracture, herniated disk, or spine damage causes severe cases of neck pain and require immediate medical attention.

Certain types of diseases, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or fibromyalgia can also cause neck pain. Usually, inflammatory and bone diseases cause weakened neck muscles, leading to chronic pain that worsens over time. Other possible causes of neck pain are a heart attack, meningitis, congenital abnormalities, infections, abscesses, tumors, or cancer of the spine.

Home Remedies for Neck Pain

Hot and Cold Therapy

Exposing the painful part of the body to heat and cold alleviates pain temporarily. To ease neck pain cause by overstressed muscles, apply a cold compress to the affected area for a few minutes. Then, change the ice pack with a heating pad. The changing temps will reduce inflammation, loosen stiff muscles, and reduce pain.

Pain Medication

Over the counter medications – such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen – helps alleviate pain and reduce muscle soreness. But don’t pop a pill every time you feel pain. These meds will only dull the pain, not eliminate the root cause of the problem.

Take a Break

Muscle pain is a sign of over-exertion. If you have been pushing yourself too hard physically, you will deal with major aches and pains later. Take a few days off from strenuous activities to reduce tension and avoid heavy lifting. Once the symptoms are gone, you can go back to your normal activities.

Good Posture

Always keep an eye on your posture. Do not hunch down, droop the shoulders, or maintain the same position for an extended period. Keep the chest out, shoulders down and the spine straight. Do this even when you are sitting. Never cradle the phone between the neck and shoulders. Do not sit or stand in one position for too long. Give yourself a gentle neck massage every now and then. Use the right pillow when you sleep at night.

When to Seek Medical Care

If neck pain persists for more than a week, have yourself checked by your doctor. If neck pain comes with other symptoms – such as fever, headache, swollen glands, weakness, numbness, and nausea – seek medical attention. You should also seek medical care if you felt a lump in your neck, if the pain radiates down the extremities, or if you cannot move your arms or hands.