Neck pain is commonly experienced with shoulder pain but refers to stiffness, pain, and discomfort radiating from behind the head down to the shoulders. Neck pain may be dull or achy or sharp and sudden affecting the back and sides of the neck. Neck pain usually isn’t a sign of a concerning underlying condition. However, if you begin to experience numbness and weakness in the arms or hands or pain begins shooting down your shoulder or arm then immediately seek medical attention.
What Are Causes of Neck Pain?
Neck pain is usually a result of poor posture especially due to long periods of sitting. Hunching over while on the computer or awkward positioning while driving in the car can put unnecessary strain on the muscles surrounding the neck and the ligaments themselves.
A more serious cause for neck pain is disc degeneration which often is due to diseases such as osteoarthritis, cancer, or meningitis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and causes inflammation of the joints and cartilage, resulting in permanent damage and degeneration if not addressed. The following symptoms may indicate a serious underlying condition that should be evaluated immediately by a medical professional:
- Fever or headache in addition to neck pain
- Severe neck stiffness
- Shooting pain that travels down the arm
- Numbing, tingling, or weakness in the arms or hands
- Numbing or weakness in legs with neck pain
- Pain unaffected by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Neck pain that persists for over a week
Several factors can cause neck pain. Age, neck injury, bad posture, or diseases can result in degeneration of the joints and bones of the spine, leading to disc herniation. A car accident or other accident causing serious neck injury could cause disc herniation, whiplash, spinal injury, and even paralysis. Herniated discs or bone spurs could also cause spinal canal narrowing, leading to greater pressure on the nerves and joints. This pressure is especially dangerous because almost all the nerves of the body pass through the neck from the brain whether its the arms, chest legs or abdomen. The function of multiple critical organs could be seriously compromised if the passing of nerve information is adversely affected.
Neck Pain Relief Treatments
The first step towards reaching relief from neck pain is determining the exact location and cause of the pain or inflammation. While some cases of neck pain can be severely painful and debilitating due to stiffness, there are many methods that can alleviate adverse symptoms.
Most doctors will prescribe medications that help reduce inflammation and muscle stiffness. NSAIDs or muscle relaxants are typically the first medications used when treating neck pain.
In some cases where neck pain is aggravated by movement, a neck collar may be used to support the spine and reduce movement that aggravates the neck. If the pain doesn’t respond to OTC pain medications then local injections of corticosteroids may be used to alleviate inflammation. In rare cases, epidural steroids may be used. Non-surgical treatment may last up to 8 weeks to allow the neck to recover without implementing more extreme treatment options.
A primary care physician should work with a neurosurgeon if the pain is accompanied by numbness and weakness in the arms or legs. If a sudden injury has occurred prior to the neck pain an immediate evaluation should occur to ensure there is no severe damage to the spinal discs or ligaments found in the neck.
Ergonomics and Posture
Create an ergonomic environment by changing the position of your desk and chair when using a computer. You want to ensure that the top of your monitor is at eye level and your knees just below your hips. To prevent the rounding of the shoulders, pull the shoulders up, then back, and finally down. Frequently take breaks to stretch the neck, shoulders, and arms to alleviate stress on the muscles, joints, and nerves used when on the computer.
Ensure your sleeping posture is corrected by aligning your head and heck with the rest of your body. You should have a good pillow that supports the neck without being too large or too flat. Sleeping on your back with the thighs elevated using pillows will help flatten the spine to alleviate stress and pain.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet by avoiding sugar, processed meat, processed grains, and trans fats. Regularly exercising, eating a healthy diet and not smoking cigarettes or drinking excessive alcohol can lower your risk for developing various diseases such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, or spinal narrowing.
Can Hemp CBD Oil Help for Neck Pain?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound naturally found in the cannabis plant that may provide pain relief without the distinct high or euphoria associated with smoking or consuming cannabis. CBD is usually extracted from hemp then processed into oil where it can be sold as is or infused into various products ranging from topical lotions and balms to food and beverages. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that’s responsible for producing the high or euphoria associated with cannabis or marijuana. CBD and THC differ in various ways but the most important difference is that CBD doesn’t produce a high or euphoria when consumed. This may be appealing to those seeking neck pain relief but can’t afford to be under the influence of a drug whether due to work, social stress, safety concerns, or personal beliefs.
CBD is in the very early stages of becoming a potential treatment for various conditions that cause pain and inflammation. As of now, the FDA only recognizes CBD as a possible treatment for seizures from two rare forms of epilepsy under the pharmaceutical drug “Epidiolex.” However, recent studies are confirming that CBD may possess enormous potential in treating the symptoms of various physical and psychiatric conditions, particularly those that cause pain and inflammation.
The medical literature surrounding CBD is severely limited and more studies are necessary to assess CBD’s efficacy in treating pain and inflammation. However, researchers and citizens alike are optimistic as CBD appears to possess analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotic, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective properties.
Why are Hemp and CBD Products Getting So Popular?
CBD has exploded in popularity recently for a variety of reasons. In the middle of an opioid crisis affecting the world, citizens are looking for safer alternatives to highly addicting opioids for treating acute and chronic pain. Over-the-counter pain medications mainly include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Alleve). These NSAIDs aren’t always effective and serious side effects can occur when misused or used for long periods of time. Adverse side effects include stomach bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, and damage to the stomach lining.
Also, the 2018 Farm Bill recently legalized the sale and growing of hemp and its extracts on a federal level. Hemp is cannabis Sativa grown without THC, the psychoactive compound that produces euphoria. This has led to an explosion in CBD similar to the gold rush as CBD products cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC to be sold legally. When a hemp plant or CBD product contains more than 0.3 percent THC it becomes considered as marijuana and subsequently illegal. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still classifies marijuana or cannabis as a schedule 1 substance, making it illegal to buy, grow, sell or possess. However, several states have recently legalized both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis with many states already scheduling legalization in the future.
Recent studies demonstrating CBD’s well-tolerated safety profile and potential in treating various conditions has hundreds of thousands of people on the edge of their seats for the FDA to approve CBD as a medicine. High-quality CBD is very expensive if CBD extracts were implemented as an approved medication, the prices will dramatically lower as an OTC pain medication or an insurance-covered prescription medication.
How To Take CBD for Neck Pain Relief
Taking CBD Orally
Taking CBD by mouth usually involves CBD oil, capsules, or edibles. The benefits of this method are accurate dosing and convenience. Accurate dosing is crucial to finding the optimal dose of CBD that alleviates your neck pain. Since there are no clinically established dosing protocols for CBD, or for specifically neck pain, you’ll have to try various doses to see what works best for you. The downside is that it will take longer for the effects of CBD to be felt due to the slow digestion process. However, a popular method is to place drops of CBD oil under the tongue (sublingual) for up to two minutes to be then quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The only issue with this method is that the oil or tincture may not taste pleasant.
Topical CBD Application
Another way to take CBD for neck pain would be by applying a CBD-infused topical product onto the neck. CBD-infused topicals include creams, balms, or salves, and often contain additional ingredients that may be beneficial to the body and synergize well with CBD. Always read the product’s label to make sure the CBD is from a quality source and doesn’t contain any ingredients that may induce an allergic reaction. Just like with the CBD oil, apply a small amount to the neck and then reapply more product over time until the pain goes away.
Best CBD Dose For Neck Pain
No one can tell you the best dose of CBD for neck pain because it’s subjective and highly dependent on multiple factors such as weight, pain severity, metabolism, genetics, product type, source quality, and more. Play around with the dose to find out what works best for you and your body. There isn’t a concern with overdosing on CBD since it’s well tolerated by most individuals and studies have found that CBD produces little to no toxicity.
CBD Side Effects
While it’s rare, CBD can produce side effects due to genetic susceptibility or due to combination with other medications. However, side effects from CBD tend to be mild but include:
- Dry mouth (cottonmouth)