Ayurvedic Treatment for Neck Pain

Neck pain can be due to multiple reasons. Though the pain is suffered in the neck, in particular, it can be caused by spine issues, nerves, muscles, and numerous other problems.

In our country, women have shown more complaints of neck pain than men. The prevalence of neck pain is higher in women with 2.1 percent more than men. The rural population shows a prevalence of 6.8 percent.

Young IT professionals and computer engineers that sts at desks for a longer time. Sitting in awkward positions in front of the desktops and laptops and usage of mobile phones are the contributing factors for the pain. A continuous of 7-9working hours for a day one settles in the same position. Of all working people, 24 percent alone of IT professionals complain of neck pain.

Coming to the various diseases that bring up neck pain, there are a few cervical spine disorders, osteoarthritis, whiplash, torticollis, spondylosis, neck stiffness, etc, We shall go deeper into them and their causes later on. For now, we shall learn about the neck, its anatomy, the structures in it, and the functions it does.

Neck and its structures:

neck pain

It is a connection between the head and the torso. The head sits on the neck and its movements are supported by the neck. The neck though to see a tiny part it houses the upper part of the spinal cord, parts of respiratory and digestive tracts, glands, nerves, veins, and blood vessel networking through it. The triangles of the neck are bound by the muscles. Let us go into detail. Having a clearer understanding of the structures and functions helps to take even more detailed care of the body.

Neck has the spine in the backside support. The cervical vertebrae of the spine start in the neck. As we know each vertebra of the spine has a cartilaginous intervertebral disc between its next vertebra. Going deeper into the neck we can see it shelters trachea, a part of parathyroid glands and thyroid glands, larynx, and pharynx. So, it has a part of the respiratory and digestive systems in it. There is a network of arteries and veins passing through the neck. The vagus nerve, which is the tenth cranial vore and also the longest nerve innervates the neck. The common carotid artery divides here in the neck into the external carotid artery and internal carotid artery in the neck.

It is the artery that supplies the head and the neck.  Along with these two, the internal angular vein passes through the neck. This vein collects the deoxygenated blood from the upper parts of the body, like the head, brain, face, and neck. Enclosing all these structures are two carotid sheaths that are fibrous connective tissues, present just below the adipose tissues of the skin.  The vascular network is particularly surrounded by these connective sheaths. Next comes the major part of the neck. Every organ in our body is attached to the bones for the firmness, by muscles, or ligaments or connective tissues, so is the neck. The neck is attached to the sternum which is the breast bone, that holds the ribs in the cage through cartilage on the front.

The shoulder bone also called clavicle which lies horizontally to the body is also attached to the neck by muscles. To study even more clearly, there are two triangles of muscles in the neck. The posterior triangle has sternocleidomastoid muscle, trapezius which covers the most of torso in lengthwise and other small muscles, while the anterior triangle has boundaries with hyoid, thyrohyoid, mandible, etc structures. This is all we can understand with minimal details about the inner anatomy of the neck.

Let us discuss the overlook of the neck as we see. The Adam’s apple is the most appreciable structure with the naked eye. It is the bulging of the thyroid cartilage in the neck but not a bone or an organ. Another striking part of the neck is the prominent Sternocleidomastoid muscle. It is seen each time the neck is moved to the sides. The external carotid arteries and common carotid artery can be marked at the joining of this muscle with the jaw. The collar bone marks the limit of the neck. Technically, the whole weight of the head is balanced and carried by the neck, also protecting the brain. It is flexible and mobility is possible because of the ability of the neck. Head is able to turn in all directions, through and all by the support of the neck. It protects the sensory and motor center passing through it.

Now we shall take a dive into the kinds of neck pains. Neck pain is also called as cervicalgia. Though it cannot implies to every human but at least 2/3 rds of human beings complain of neck pain in their lifetime. Though it is not fatal, it definitely causes discomfort and rare chronic cases lead to surgeries.

Let us start with

1. Cervical Radiculopathy:

This is called pinching of nerves. The condition comes under neuropathy. Because a set of nerves do not function. They become numb, weak, and make it difficult for the muscles functioning. Neck pain starts along with numbness. It is diagnosed by physical examination.

Treatment for this pinched nerves is either by physiotherapy, bed rest, using non steroidal pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, non-opioids.

Ayurvedic treatment for neck pain

Chiropractic treatment is another way. The nerves that come from the cervical vertebrae when pinched cause pain in the neck particularly. The motion range of the neck decreases. Pins and needles like pain are also felt. Exercises for a trapped or pinched nerve in the neck: the physiotherapy exercises work best for a pinched nerve. However, they are to be done under the supervision of trained physiotherapists.

Trap stretch is done to work on the trapezius muscles, this stretch is done by bending head for 3o secs.

Chin tuck is a stretch elongation of the neck muscles. It makes the double chin like appearance on the face while doing this exercise, hence named as chin tuck.

Extra stretch in this exercise allied as chin tuck with extension.

The basic exercise for the neck pain is the head turns. Rotating the head to left and right for 10secs each and tilting it up and down eases the neck motion.

Neck bend is the exercise that involves the bending of the neck to reach the chest. This exercise will relieve the trapped nerve in the neck. Though shoulder roll is the name, they also relieve the neck pain alongside shoulder pain.

Other than these exercises, yoga, massages, hot or cold compress, acupuncture is also recommended for treating neck pain due to a pinched nerve.

2. Carotid Artery Dissection:

Though neck pain alone is not a symptom of the carotid artery dissection, but the neck region is the most damaged and mostly show symptoms in this. Carotid artery dissection as the name indicates is the dissection of the carotid artery walls that carry oxygenated blood into two separate ways. The artery dissection may be due to a trauma to the neck. Trauma is physical damage caused in the body by an external force. When trauma to the neck happens either by injury or by strangulation, the need fro carotid artery dissection rises.

Causes can be both traumatic and spontaneous. Spontaneous carotid artery dissection occurs in the people uncommonly and with no idiopathic reason. The carotid artery dissection has proven a cause of stroke. Most of the people with hereditary connective tissue disorders are said to be having these spontaneous carotid artery dissections. However, there is not always this reason behind the carotid artery dissection. 0.67 percent of the patents admits in emergency hospitals for the trauma to the head and neck by a motor vehicle crash.

Treatment for this condition includes carotid artery ligation, implanting a stent, anticoagulation that is reducing the coagulation or clotting of blood.

3. Whiplash:

The injury to the neck caused by the sudden distortion of the neck is called whiplash. Commonly caused by accidents, or pain and aching or falls. Mostly by the rear end, motor clashes pain and aching in the neck referred pain in back and shoulders, the pain in the middle of the spine. The exact injury that is behind the whiplash can be the injury or tear in the ligaments of the spine in particular. The head snaps forward or backward resulting in whiplash injury. Injury can also be in the cerebrum.

In a word, it can be sad as a strain of muscles, bones, and nerves in the neck. However, it is a nonfatal injury.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given as medications. Botulinum toxin A is used in muscle contraction and spasms. This whiplash case has been dating from the 1950s and has been growing from then. 20percent of patients show symptoms in 3days.

4. Cervical Herniated Disc:

It is the injury to the cushioning or intervertebral disc present between the cervical vertebrae. This injury is developed by a trauma or physical injury to the spine. It leads to pain and disability. Unrelenting neck pain is the sign of the herniated disc. The numbness, tingling pain with pins and needles, and difficulty in reflexes are the other symptoms. Causes can be both the degeneration of the intervertebral disc and also trauma to some extent. Some prolonged sitting, squatting, a sedentary lifestyle, and wear and there of the vertebrae. Lifting of heavy loads and those that play contact sports are more likely to develop the disc herniation.

The treatment has various options. Painkillers that reduce the pain, inflammation are non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, while, epidural, corticosteroid injections are injected into the spinal space to reduce the herniation.  these injections show 17 present complications in the cervical disc herniations, of course, they are minor physical therapies like massages, hot and cold compress, physiotherapy exercises are also common.

5. Congenital Spinal Stenosis:

Spinal stenosis is the condition where the spinal canal narrows. In particular in the neck level. The spinal degeneration is the main cause behind this stenosis. The degeneration of the spine is a gradual loss of structures in the spine affecting its function over time. Can be due to the age by trauma, infections, tumors, or by arthritis. The pressure developed due to this can result in herniated disc too. The spinal stenosis can also be due to the trauma caused or congenital.

There are both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for the condition. surgical include conical discectomy and fusion. In this procedure, the spinal cord and near roots are decompressed. Laminoplasty and laminectomy involve the removal of the lamina of the vertebrae and a trauma.

6. Osteoarthritis:

It is a joint disease that shows the breaking of bones and cartilages. The signs or symptoms gradually show up with years. The patients with osteoarthritis complain of pain in the neck, neck stiffness and inability in movement, disability is common in the people. Causes can be said as mechanical stress, injuries, loss of strength in the muscle, impairment of nerves, no proper control of movements and wear and tear. Injury to the ligaments contributes to major neck pain.

Acetaminophen is the oral medication given as a first-line of treatment ever since in a standard way. However, few lifestyle management is necessary to maintain the severity of osteoporosis. Joint injections, steroids, and topical use of pain relievers are prescribed. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and used in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

7. Spondylosis:

This condition can also be said as spinal osteoarthritis. Spondylosis is the degeneration of the vertebral column like the degeneration of the spine in the case of the spinal stenosis. The lamina and facets of the vertebrae are the most affected parts of the spinal osteoarthritis.

The main cause behind is the years of pressure on the joints by playing a sport, trauma, poor positions of sitting and working, pressure on the disc between the vertebrae. A greater complication of the disease is the vertebrobasilar insufficiency. The spinal joints come to be stiff in the cervical spondylosis. This causes aggressive pain in the neck. The diagnosis is done by Spurling’s test. It is done by fixing the head in the direction of pains by gradually applying pressure. And also the doctor looks for an Ihemite Sign to diagnose spondylosis. An electric shock kind happens when the neck is flexed in patients with cervical spondylosis.

For those patients with cervical radiculopathy, surgery is looked upon. Physical therapy, massages can relieve neck stiffness and cause ease in mobility. However, they cannot heal the cause. Most of the doctors recommend the operative procedures for treating this condition.

Neck pain surgery

Surgical procedures in treating the spondylosis are the decompression and fusion surgeries, these are chosen based on the root or origin of the nerve and root compression and Fusion surgery is performed for mid alignment of the spine.

8. Head and Neck Cancer:

These cancers usually develop in the throat, nose, mouth, salivary glands, etc. 75 percent of the head and neck cancers are caused by smoking and alcoholic habits. An enlarged lymph node is formed in the neck, leading to unrelenting neck pain, sore throat. This symptom can be chronic. Causes can be multiple from alcohol consumption, tobacco and betel nut chewing habits, infections by the human papillomavirus, and the Epstein Barr virus.

Surgical procedures are frequently used treatments for the tumors. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are the follow-up treatments based on the severity. But still, the side effects can be on the eating habits and gastrointestinal diseases and mucous related problems

9. Referred Pain:

This is more commonly called as reflective pain. Pain felt at other locations in the body than in the area of stimulus is termed as reflective pain.

Menstrual pain is the best example of this among women.

Myocardial infarction pain from the heart hits the neck, shoulders, arms, back, etc, and is not constrained to the heart alone.

There is another type called radiating pain which is different from the referred pain. Radiating pain is radiating from the site of pain while the referred pain is from some other site in the body but inferring the same pain. The intensity of the referred pain depends on the pain that is in the site of pain. Patients already having chronic musculoskeletal pain frequently experience this referred pain and also spread to the last proximities. Sometimes the referred pain rises on the same side of the pain source. The pain stimulation mechanism of referred pain is explained by theories. Thalamic convergence theory states that referred pain is the collective stimulus of the neural inputs received in the brain from both the injured area and the referred area.

Hyper excitability theory is defined as a pain stimulus that goes on to new receptive fields of pain leading to the referred pain at distant locations to the actual site of pain. Axon reflex mechanism talks about bifurcated neurons that are meant to be responsible for the referred pain.

The diagnosis of this referred pain is done by precision to know the intensity of the pain, timing of the stimuli.

Infections also play an important role in leading to neck pain.

10. Retropharyngeal Abscess:

A retropharyngeal abscess is one among them. It is an abscess formed at the backside of the throat in the neck. This leads to neck stiffness and difficulty in swallowing and other symptoms. Torticollis also is caused by this infection. Causes of a retropharyngeal abscess are by bacteria or any upper respiratory infection can be a reason. The diagnosis is done by a CT scan and an x-ray of the neck.

Treatments include tonsillectomy that means the removal of tonsils, high dose antibiotics are used in treating infections, and ease the abscess. Antitubercular therapy is also prescribed as this is secondary to tuberculosis.

11. Torticollis

A movement disorder of neurons correlated trouble. Also called a wry neck named after a bird. It is when the head is fixed in a tilt or flexion. If the head is tipped towards the shoulder it is laterocollis, if it is of head and neck as in forwarding direction it is called anterocollis etc. The neck pain is the major sign of this condition, while even the muscles like sternocleidomastoid and cervical spine also show symptoms. Causes can be congenital and also acquired. Acquired torticollis is developed by abnormal and awkward neck positions.

Physical therapy is the basic treatment prescribed after the diagnosis of the type of torticollis.

12. Stiff Neck:

stiff neck treatment

Neck stiffness or a stiff neck in a line is the discomfort in moving, turning, or flexing the neck. Causes can be muscle strain and sprain. A sprain is the stretching in the ligaments or tearing of ligaments suddenly while a strain is an injury caused to the soft tissue in the joint. The internal problems in the cervical region of the spine also factor the neck stiffness. The inflammation of the meninges of the brain can develop mobility issues in the neck. 

Ayurvedic Treatment for Neck Pain

Ayurvedic treatment for neck pain is based on the cause of neck pain. Neck pain may be due to cervical spine disorders, osteoarthritis, whiplash, torticollis, spondylosis, neck stiffness, etc., the treatments are chosen depending on the state and stage of the diseases.

There is a common belief that for every neck pain, ayurvedic massage is the solution. It would help if you were careful because, in many situations, ayurvedic massages may worsen the condition. For example, neck injury, inflammatory state, etc.…

A detailed consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor can help you choose the right treatment for any neck pain, depending on the state and stage disease.

Ayurvedic treatments can give excellent relief in chronic neck pains like stiff neck, osteoarthritis, spondylosis, etc.…

When the doshas get vitiated due to causative factors, they accumulate in the neck region and produce neck pain. The symptoms depend on the predominance of the doshas. For example, in Kapha dosha predominance, one can observe stiffness in the neck. If paint dosha is dominant, the burning sensation can be seen, and in vata dosha predominance numbness or severe pain can be observed.

Due to a combination of the doshas, the signs and symptoms are also seen accordingly.
The ayurvedic treatments are aimed to bring the normalcy of doshas through various procedures. The treatments include internal medications, external therapies, panchakarma treatments, dietary changes, lifestyle changes, suitable exercises.

Ayurvedic Treatments commonly used in neck pain are

  • Abhyanga – Ayurvedic massage.
  • Lepana – Application of medicated pastes on the neck region.
  • Dhara – Dripping of medicated decoctions.
  • Greeva vasti – Retaining medicated oil in the neck.
  • Patra pinda Sweda – Poultice prepared with leaves.
  • Choorna pinda Sweda – Poultice prepared with powders.
  • Shashtika shali pinda Sweda – Poultice prepared with Navara rice.
  • Valuka Sweda – Poultice prepared with sand.
  • Lavana Sweda – Poultice prepared with Salt.
  • Pichu – Retaining medicated oil with a cotton pad on the neck.

Panchakarma treatments like Vasti, Virechana, Nasya, Vamana are also practiced when one has chronic neck pain.

Benefits of Ayurvedic Treatment in Neck pain

  • Ayurvedic treatments are natural and holistic.
  • Helps to prevent further aggravation of the condition.
  • It helps in preventing degenerative changes.
  • Strengthen the muscles and bones of the neck.
  • Helps to prevent the reoccurrence.
  • Can minimize the surgical procedures.

Precautions:

In spite of all the above problems pertaining to neck pain, a careful lifestyle is necessary to avoid it. When you are feeling a pain in the neck, it is necessary to evaluate what is causing it.

Carrying a heavy bag on shoulders or on a single shoulder affects the muscles of both shoulder and neck.

Smoking, stress, and alcohol also serve as factors for neck pain. It is better to use neck pain as an excuse to quit these habits before it becomes worse.

Get messages regularly not only for relief but also for relaxation. Care should be taken about postures and positions.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neck_stiffness
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324070#:~:text=A%20stiff%20neck%20often%20occurs,a%20minor%20injury%20or%20incident.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torticollis
  4. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1152543-overview
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/torticollis
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retropharyngeal_abscess
  7. https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/mouth-and-throat-disorders/retropharyngeal-abscess#:~:text=A%20retropharyngeal%20abscess%20is%20a,computed%20tomography%20of%20the%20neck.
  8. https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/what-is-causing-your-neck-pain-find-out/
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