Unless you are one of those lucky few, you have probably experienced some back or neck pain at some point in your life. Many Americans have been desensitized to their pain, because they simply feel it’s a normal condition. According to a recent survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), close to one in two Americans say pain is a part of life, while another 41 percent believe pain is a standard part of the aging process.
Truth is, pain does not discriminate. Although many people think chronic pain is a normal part of aging, it can affect anyone – regardless of age. When groups of people were polled, almost 60 percent of Americans confessed that they might not talk to a medical professional if they were suffering from chronic pain, and more than one-third of Americans would refuse to take doctor-recommended pain medications because they fear that they would become addicted.
Neck pain is the number three cause of chronic pain; more than a quarter of Americans report being affected from pain in this area of their body. Neck pain can stem from a number of causes. It can be from something as simple as improper positioning while sleeping, or even sitting or standing with bad posture. It can also occur due to injuries, accidents, heavy lifting, or other spinal issues.
Strategies for mitigating neck pain range from controlling postures that cause pain or designing a work space to minimize the generation of pain. People have also been pursuing therapies to remove the neck pain and restore normal neck function. New advancements in technology and procedures have made it possible for people with chronic pain to get relief faster. Here are some advancements being used to treat chronic neck pain:
1. Acupuncture: Nonsurgical management of neck pain with acupuncture has been shown to be effective in relieving back and neck pain, arthritis, and shoulder pain. Acupuncture is often coupled with a massage and exercise protocol. Acupuncture employs direct needle application to neural focal points which either encourage or discourage afferent and efferent nerve fibers to relieve pain.
2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is used to get a patient back to functioning and increase mobility. Technology in physical therapy may include therapeutic exercise, ultrasound therapy, and electrical stimulation.
3. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS Unit: This is a therapy used to treat back and neck pain that is chronic or intense following surgery. The TENS device, which is about the size of a pager, has electrodes that attach to the back or the neck. It works by delivering a painless, intermittent electrical current that relieves pain and improves mobility. A physical therapist can teach the patient how to use it effectively at home.
To find out more about how different methods can help relieve your chronic neck pain, call the back and neck doctors of Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment, or request one online.