What Neck Pain on the Left Side Means
Neck pain can seriously disturb your routine life, making it difficult to even turn your head. Seek medical care if your pain is accompanied by numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands or if you feel pain shooting down into the shoulder or down the arm. Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential to cure persistent neck pain on the left side. The pain management doctors at the Century Medical and Dental Center figure out the source behind your symptoms and ensure long-term wellbeing for you.
The neck is a crucial part of the skeletal system and is responsible for holding the brain, a vital organ that makes the body function. It is significant for overall body structure and supports our heads, connecting the cervical spinal cord to the brain and giving way to essential blood vessels to move through the rest of the body.
Understanding the human body and its systems is not easy, and it takes a lot of focus to understand how our body works and what connects it all. The neck is a great shock absorber and plays a crucial role in controlling head movements, supporting its weight, and protecting the nerves that carry sensory and motor information from the brain to the rest of the body.
Neck muscles are highly delicate, and even a minor injury or sprain can result in severe consequences like permanent disability. Any pain or unusually restive movements of the neck must not be ignored. You should consult a doctor to find out what could be causing the symptoms.
Neck Pain on the Left Side
You would be surprised to know that neck pain on the left side is ranked among the top five pains in the world experienced by people. Characterized by temporary neck pain, particularly on the right side, it can result from fatigue, bad sleeping posture, and difficult or discomforting daily activities. Sometimes, osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
In most cases, the neck pain we experience is caused by inflammation, muscle strain, or tension. Suffering from neck pain once in a while is not unusual, and there are no specific causes behind it, but persistent neck pain on the left side of the neck means something is wrong. In such a case, consulting a primary care doctor should be your first course of action to learn about your condition and what could be causing it.
What Causes Neck Pain on the Left Side?
Neck pain on the left side can result from several causes that range from mild to severe and even rare. The most common causes of neck pain on the left side include:
Tension or muscle strain
The biggest culprits behind neck pain are tension and muscle strain. When the tendon or neck muscle is torn or overstretched, it ends up with muscle strain. Muscle tension occurs when the muscles do not relax after contracting.
Tension or muscle strain is caused by:
- Leaning forward or sitting for a long time;
- Sleeping in an awkward position such as with a twisted or bent neck;
- Putting too much force on the neck muscles during exercise;
- A problem in joints due to aging;
- Compression of nerves;
- Falling or crashing into someone resulting in whiplash;
- Keeping the phone cradled between shoulder and ears.
Thrusting your head forcefully back and forth can result in whiplash. Whiplash occurs during accidents and sports like football, and it can cause headaches, pain in the left side of the neck, and muscle stiffness. Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medications are usually recommended by doctors to alleviate pain caused by whiplash.
Neck pain can also result from extra pressure or irritation on the nerve fibers. When these sensory fibers get squeezed or irritated, it can cause numbness and pain.
Acute torticollis occurs when the neck muscles contract and the head gets twisted to one side as a result. Turning like this may cause neck pain on the left side.
Some less common causes of neck pain include:
Degeneration of the cervical disc
Vertebral bones have discs between them that act like cushions or shock absorbers. These discs are flexible but rigid, but they get weak with the passage of time or injury, and their outer covering, known as annulus fibrosus, can tear with time. As it breaks or degenerates, the internal fluid of the disc comes out and accumulates on the spinal cord.
Meningitis can lead to headaches, muscle stiffness, and neck pain. It is inflammation caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. If it is left untreated, meningitis can cause complications like seizures and brain swelling.
The first seven bones of the vertebrae are called cervical vertebrae. Breakage or fracture of any of these bones due to injury, accident, sports, or any other reason can result in a broken neck, accompanied by severe pain.
Herniated cervical disk
When the outer covering of the cervical disc gets damaged or wears out, nerves get pressed, which pushes the nucleus to one side. This condition is known as a herniated cervical disc. Pressure on the nerves causes numbness, stiffness, and arm and neck pain.
Rare causes of neck pain can include:
Congenital cervical vertebrae anomalies and torticollis in newborn babies cause pain on both sides of their neck. While there are no known reasons for congenital anomalies, these injuries are believed to occur during birth.
Any abnormal cell growth that takes place in the spinal cord or the vertebrae, either cancerous or benign, is called a spinal tumor. These tumors can cause muscle weakness, neck pain, and severe inflammation.
When to Seek Medical Help?
Mostly neck pain, either on the right or left side, gradually improves with home treatments like over-the-counter medications, hot shower or hot pack, and neck massage or a change of pillow. However, constant or frequently occurring pain that does not seem to be improving on its own or even after taking some over-the-counter medication means it is time to seek medical attention.
Do not ignore your neck pain, as it is not something to be taken lightly. You must visit a doctor immediately if you notice the neck pain moving to the arms or you start getting numbness with tingling.
The doctor will first examine you physically and ask for medical history to know more about your condition. He may also recommend blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, and MRI to get an accurate picture of what you are going through and advise the best solution for your discomfort.
Treatment of Neck Pain on the Left Side
Treatment for neck pain depends on the severity of your pain and the accurate diagnosis of your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend stronger medications along with over-the-counter medications to keep the pain under control. They may include muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants for pain relief. For prolonged neck pain, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid injections to help you feel better.
In case the neck bones are fractured or the nerve cords are severely compressed, surgery might be the only solution for relieving the nerve root. However, minor fractures only need a neck collar. You may also need a physiotherapist’s help to improve your posture and movements through various exercises to relax your muscles.
Do not let debilitating neck pain affect your quality of life and health. Consult a pain management doctor in NY to get the best help to prevent permanent disability. The experienced and board-certified pain-relief specialists at the Century Medical and Dental Center use the best diagnostic methods and the latest research to find out the source of your discomfort and come up with solutions to ease your chronic pain. They also determine what underlying conditions may be contributing to the pain and give you a chance to get back to normal life within a short time.