If you suffer from chronic neck pain, you may think that it is related to muscle tension, improper positioning, carrying a heavy backpack, or sleeping in an awkward position. While these are common causes, there are other, less common reasons for your neck discomfort. Here are three unusual things that may be causing your neck pain, and what you can do about them:
If you have a tooth infection, or abscess, you may experience severe pain, swelling, drainage, and swelling around the affected tooth. Sometimes, however, pain is absent because the infection has led to destruction of the nerve in your tooth.
When pain is not present, you may not even know that you have an abscess, and consequently, may not seek dental care. If left untreated, a severe tooth infection can spread, causing inflammation and damage to your cranial nerves, including your facial nerve.
When this happens, you may experience shooting pains in your cheek, chin, and neck, as well as numbness and tingling sensations. While the inflammation will subside once your infection has been successfully treated, lingering nerve damage may persist indefinitely. If your neck pain still lingers even after dental treatment, see your physician, who may prescribe pain medications, certain dietary supplements, and may refer you to a rehabilitation center for a physical therapy consultation.
If you suffer from acid reflux disease, you may experience heartburn, hoarseness, frequent throat clearing, and coughing, You may also feel as though you have a lump in your throat which might be accompanied by difficulty swallowing. This is known as a globus sensation. If you have this condition, you might experience neck pain when you swallow, and the pain may be especially noticeable in the front of your neck.
Acid reflux may also cause earaches, glandular pain, discomfort on both sides of your neck, and chest pain. Once your acid reflux is under control, your symptoms will subside. Sometimes, however, the symptoms of reflux disease are chronic and do not respond to medication, weight management, smoking cessation, or dietary modifications. If you still experience neck pain as a result of acid reflux, physical therapy may help improve your symptoms.
In addition to sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes, your seasonal allergies may also produce neck pain. Allergies can trigger a body-wide inflammatory response as a result of the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines.
When cytokines are released, systemic inflammation can develop, leading to pain in your muscles and joints. Once your allergies are treated, inflammation will dampen, and your neck pain will subside. In addition to antihistamines, your allergist may prescribe medications that inhibit the release of cytokines that will help minimize your allergy symptoms and diminish systemic inflammation.
If you have any of the above conditions and develop neck pain, consult with a physical therapist. By working with your dentist, physician, and physical therapist, you can develop an appropriate treatment plan that will improve your health conditions, including neck pain.