Unlike chronic neck pain, acute neck pain often comes on suddenly after trauma, surgery, stress, or other problems and lasts for a short or limited time. It is a direct reaction to trauma to tissue or disease and normally subsides when you treat the injury, disease, or cause. Chronic neck pain is a long lasting, persistent, recurrent pain that can go on for years. There are many types of chronic pain besides chronic neck pain, which include cancer pain, back pain, arthritis, and headache pain. Identifying the chronic pains source, if possible, is the first step in evaluating and treating chronic neck pain and other long-lasting pains. Never ignore any persistent pain including chronic neck pain, as it could be a sign of serious illness or disease and become worse if the cause is not determined and treated, although there are times when doctors and specialists cannot identify the exact cause of chronic pain.
Managing and treating chronic pain including chronic neck pain can be difficult and challenging. It often takes several combinations of therapy or treatment to find one that helps a person get some relief. Treatment goals are to increase a person’s ability to function while reducing pain. At home, you may be able to help manage or control your pain by eating a proper, healthy, balanced diet. A registered dietitian or your doctor can supply you with a diet that contains all the vitamins and minerals you need. Getting adequate sleep, appropriate daily exercise, and taking pain and anti-inflammatory drugs often helps chronic neck pain sufferers. Some people find relief by using therapies such as meditation or acupuncture. Many people dealing with chronic pain including chronic neck pain experience emotional problems such as anxiety, anger, depression, fear, and/or frustration, making it difficult to deal with or conquer the pain. Your emotional well-being is extremely important so seek the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed mental health counselor if necessary, for cognitive behavior therapy or other treatments.
If the above treatments do not reduce or relieve your chronic neck pain, your doctor or specialist may prescribe physical therapy to improve function and movement. They may change, add or prescribe new or stronger medications or recommend relaxation techniques to help you reduce stress. It is extremely important to find a doctor or specialist that you feel comfortable talking to, have confidence in, and maintain regular contact. Ask your physician to refer you to a pain management clinic if the treatments for your chronic neck pain are not effective. The health professionals at a pain management clinic will help you identify possible treatments and help you determine realistic goals.