There are more people suffering from both head and neck pains in our modern age. Dr. Prem Pillay, a Spine & Pain specialist has noticed this increase in his practice over the last 10 years. He attributes it so several factors; including workstyle and lifestyle changes. Dr. Prem observes that our 21st century life is associated with the common use of computers for work and recreation. This includes laptops, desktops, iPads, tablets, smartphones and gameboys. The prolonged sitting and bad posture associated with the use of these devices is contributing to head and neck pain. Staring at a computer screen for hours can also strain the eyes and contribute to headaches states Dr. Prem.
Common causes of headaches are migraine and tension headaches. Less common causes of headaches include strokes such as sudden bleeding in the brain from a ruptured aneurysm (a balloon like weakness in a brain artery) and brain tumors. Headaches can also start from neck problems. Muscle tension in the both the head and the neck can build up from working with computers and long meetings in the sitting position. Dr. Prem has found that there are more people with spine problems including slipped discs who come to him with both headaches and neck pain.
A slipped spine disc is the protrusion of a gel like substance between the bones of the spine. This disc is not a bone but a rubbery substance that allows the spine to bend and therefore allows human beings to be flexible and upright. Damage to the spine discs can occur gradually or suddenly. Sudden damage can occur from a car accident or a fall. Gradual damage can occur over time from bad posture, prolonged sitting, carrying heavy objects, impact sports such as road running and loading sports such as weightlifting.
Dr. Prem Pillay has noticed that many patients have gradually injured their spines from both their work styles and their recreational activities. This causes the spine discs to come out and irritate the spine nerves. This in turn leads to muscle pulls and aches around the head, neck and low back. In older people other contributing causes include osteoporosis which can cause spine fractures from a minor fall. A few have spine tumors or spine infections such as tuberculosis as the cause of neck and head pain.
You can take a number of steps on your own to alleviate neck pain caused by strain or spasm of the neck-muscles. Improve your posture and change the way you sleep. Take rest breaks at work instead of sitting or standing in the same position. Do exercises to stretch the neck and shoulder muscles. Use hot showers, hot compresses or a heating pad to relax tense muscles. Take aspirin or ibuprofen.
Head and neck pain that continue to bother a person for more than a week should be seen and assessed by a doctor. If there is a sudden severe head and neck pain that is the worst in your life you should immediately seek emergency treatment, states Dr. Prem. This could be from a type of stroke or a serious brain infection called meningitis. It is a habit for some people to go for massage therapy for their head, neck and back pains that come and go. However if this therapy does not take away the problem after three visits or if it comes back again after three visits you should see a spine/nerve specialist, states Dr. Prem. A spine and nerve specialist can evaluate your problem and carry out an MRI of the head and spine to determine your problem.
Modern treatments for head and neck pain include medications, advanced physiotherapy, advanced spine injections and advanced microsurgery. Dr. Prem notes that modern treatments can be effective and safe if carried out by an experienced medical specialist. He illustrates the case of a Mrs. Tan who had both head and neck pain. These problems could be not solved by massage therapy or pain medications. A spine and nerve evaluation and MRIs of the head and neck revealed that the source of her problem was weak or injured spine discs. She had a spine injection treatment using a laser like technology as a day procedure with any cutting or surgery. She was able to go home within a few hours of this special spine injection and over the next few weeks had relief of her pain. Advanced physiotherapy was also done to strengthen her spine.
Workstyle and lifestyle adjustments including a proper ergonomic desk and chair and frequent breaks from the sitting position are also useful, notes Dr. Prem. Prevention of these problems in young people should be more widely taught in the schools, universities and work places, states Dr. Prem Pillay. Further information can be found at spine-neuro.org.