If you find yourself frequently rubbing your sore, stiff neck or popping pain pills to get through the day, don’t dismiss persistent neck pain as just part of modern life. Chronic neck discomfort is the body’s way of signaling potential damage to your cervical spine. Ignoring the warning signs can allow minor issues to escalate into debilitating disorders over time. Read on to understand why living with untreated chronic neck pain is never advisable.
What Defines Chronic Neck Pain?
Neck pain is considered chronic when it lasts over three months. Many factors can cause chronic neck discomfort, including poor posture, injuries, structural disorders, and arthritis. While occasional neck stiffness from sleeping in a weird position usually resolves quickly, ongoing pain likely indicates deeper problems. The most common causes of chronic neck pain include:
Herniated/degenerative discs putting pressure on nerves
Facet joint arthritis restricting movement
Muscle strain from repetitive motions and prolonged poor posture
Spinal conditions like spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis
Dismissing persistent neck pain as “normal” prevents proper diagnosis and treatment of these underlying issues.
Risks of Disregarding Chronic Neck Discomfort
While the temptation to downplay constant neck pain is understandable, allowing it to become your “new normal” has consequences. Potential risks of ignoring chronic neck pain include:
- Reduced mobility as untreated injuries stiffen joints
- Adjacent segment disease that accelerates spinal degeneration
- Neurological damage from undiagnosed spinal cord compression
- Chronic headaches that originate from neck issues
- Depression and reduced quality of life from unrelenting pain
- Permanent disability if nerve damage occurs
Simply trying to push through chronic discomfort often worsens the structural damage and makes treatment more complicated down the road.
Seeking Effective Care for Chronic Neck Pain
Living with constant neck pain is unnecessary when many remedies exist. Possible treatment options include:
- Oral medications like NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants
- Physical therapy involving stretches, exercises, and modalities
- Massage therapy performed by a licensed massage therapist
- Spinal manipulation from a chiropractor
- Epidural steroid injections to decrease inflammation
- Surgery such as spinal fusion or disc replacement
Identifying the origin of your neck pain through imaging tests allows doctors to determine the most suitable treatment plan for lasting relief.
Never Assume Neck Pain Is Inevitable
It’s easy to view chronic neck pain as an unavoidable consequence of aging or modern work life. However, you should never resign yourself to simply enduring constant discomfort. Severe or persistent neck pain that disrupts your daily functioning warrants medical evaluation. Starting appropriate treatment early maximizes your chances of returning to pain-free mobility.
See Your Doctor to Assess Chronic Neck Pain
If over-the-counter medication and home remedies aren’t touching your chronic neck pain, it’s time to see a doctor. Neurosurgeons or pain management specialists can order diagnostic tests to pinpoint the underlying source and get you on the road to lasting relief. Don’t assume daily neck pain is something you have to live with – seek help to determine your best treatment options.
Chronic neck pain should never be written off as normal or inevitable. Ignoring persistent neck discomfort allows damage to worsen and treatment to become more complicated. Manage chronic neck pain now through expert medical evaluation, physical therapy, medication, injections, or surgery before it permanently impacts your health and mobility. Your neck supports your head – don’t take chronic pain there lightly. Consult your doctor to find the relief you deserve.