Neck Pain Recovery

Neck Pain Recovery

neck pain recoveryNeck pain is a common issue and is associated with various symptoms related to obvious neck injuries such as whiplash, as well as problems which often contribute like poor neck posture, degenerative arthritic conditions and other non-specific reasons involved in neck pain recovery.

Both traumatic and non-traumatic causes often lead to symptoms of neck pain which extend beyond one year duration, being a chronic condition that seems to elude neck pain recovery for many individuals. These symptoms have far reaching consequences beyond simple neck pain and can affect quality of life in many areas.

Symptoms which often persist include; neck and shoulder pain, tenderness and stiffness, radiating pain, numbness and/or tingling, headaches, as well as difficulty concentrating, sleeping problems due to neck pain and anxiety.

In developed countries, 30 to 50% of adults may experience neck pain within any given year. While the causes are often unclear, it is known the neck pain recovery for those suffering from whiplash neck injuries is not very good; 50% will continue to experience symptoms beyond 1 year.

Neck pain recovery is complicated by a number of factors and the most obvious definition would be when there is no pain, however, given the poor rate of recovery and the number of different signs and symptoms, it is difficult to determine when someone is recovered. Typical measurements include assessment of disability from neck pain and related symptoms, as well as improvement to a clinical maximum level in response to treatments.

Signs & Symptoms

Since neck pain recovery is subjective and symptoms often persist, recovery may not be related to an absence of signs or symptoms, but a reduction in frequency or intensity. These signs and symptoms are categorized into neck pain and other. Other signs and symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, weakness or stiffness of the neck, headaches, facial pain, difficulty with concentrating, numbness/tingling of the neck and/or arms, nausea, problems with vision, sleep disturbances and slowed thinking ability. So, a reduction of intensity or frequency regarding these signs and symptoms can often be an indication of maximal recovery.

Neck Pain Recovery – Life Role Value

Neck pain signs and symptoms may often interrupt participating with life roles in and outside the home environment. Being able to resume these roles is considered a valuable part of recovery. Interfering with these life roles includes the value of parenting, being a functional spouse, providing for the family both financially as well as maintaining appropriate organization.

In taking care of children, a parent with neck pain signs and symptoms will often have difficulties in playing games or sitting for periods to help the with work when it involves looking down. It is often distressing when you have to rely on your spouse to do things you were once able to do or being able to enjoy a better level of intimacy. Another aspect is related to roles which are away from the home like issues involving work productivity, activities with friends or being a part of the community.

Problems at work often lead to a lack of stamina, where an individual who would work all day and then not have the energy to do other things afterwards or will be in more pain later. So, these individuals can work, however, the disability extends after work, at home, where the effects significantly affect quality of life and the feeling like they will have to pay for it later.

Friendships can suffer due to neck pain issues and this can compound the feeling of isolation and depression. Others will not necessarily understand that you cannot go out with them and do things you once could. Calls eventually stop and one wonders if they caused the group of friends to feel like they are bringing them down or that you do not like them anymore. Getting to a point where one can go out and enjoy being with friends, feeling like part of the group again can bring about a reasonable sense of neck pain recovery.

Neck Pain Recovery Physical Activity

Not having the ability to do previous physical activities brings about a feeling of being limited when compared to others of similar age. Things like snow shoveling, being able to drive long distances, cutting the grass, playing or carrying the kids, grocery shopping or being able to get exercise. This often leads to depending on others and a feeling like you are letting someone down or are in constant decline.

Limitations of physical activities such as simple head turning or raising the arms over the head can be restricted and foster fear of motion which can lead to further restrictions both physical and emotional, where an individual learns not to perform these activities. Therefore, the ability to perform some of the more simple movements, regardless of improvement of pain levels would be a positive indication of recovery.

A 2020 study in PLoS One indicates the optimal dosage, variables, and effectiveness of exercising for chronic neck pain that is non-specific is unknown and needs clarification.

While a 2020 study in Clinical Rehabilitation indicates adding aerobic exercise to neck specific exercises can be an effective form of treatment for reducing symptoms of those suffering from neck pain and headaches.

Positive Emotions

Neck pain and activity limitations can lead to mood disturbances. While nobody expects to be happy all the time, painful symptoms, sleep deprivation, stress from financial pressures or legal issues can cause a general lack of emotional wellness. Negative moods often cause a sense of feeling cranky, moody, grumpy, short tempered, having a bad attitude and depressed. A general improvement, even without being related to an improvement in symptoms is a positive indicator of recovery.

Trying not to look on every episode of pain as the end of the world and having a more positive outlook can be the beginning of the road to recovery. Focusing on other aspects of life can bring about a change in attitude. Resolving other issues can chip away at the pressures which can mount to make any situation more difficult; likewise, success in other areas can be a stepping stone to general improvement. This is often seen with chronic whiplash problems.

Being Independent & Spontaneous

Involvement with neck pain issues can bring about a sense of dependency, having to plan your life around doctors visits, medications routines, lawyer visits, rehab appointments and fluctuations of symptoms. Therefore, a sense of recovery can begin when your life does not have to be planned around these schedules. It is difficult to always have to plan your life around these types of activities which reinforce how you life is affected by your pain. Having the ability to be more spontaneous in your daily routine means you are not a slave to your symptoms. Symptoms can be unpredictable and thus intrude upon a sense of spontaneity or be routine and predictable which requires careful planning.

Being independent means you do not always have to rely on the health care system, friends and family to help manage your condition and the consequences, which can only be a constant reminder of reliance on others. When involved in a legal case, there are those that would just like to go outside for a bit and try to do some work in the garden, but are afraid that someone will be outside with a video camera and the feeling of being constantly monitored.

Financial pressure can bring about a loss of being independent and spontaneous. Sometimes this is due to a lack of ability to earn income, and other situations result from financial loss from due to legal expenses, costs of treatment – medications, doctor visits, rehabilitation sessions and transportation issues. While everyone recognizes that some financial pressure is a part of life, resolving issues relating to the additional expenses as a direct result of pain or injury is an essential aspect of neck pain recovery.

Sense Of Self Satisfaction

Feeling like a person in pain instead of your normal self means you feel you cannot move on with your life or participate in self development. Being overwhelmed with a neck condition can lead to feeling like you cannot make firm plans and the future will be changed in a negative way or be uncertain, leading to anxiety and lacking a clear direction in life.

An important part of recovery is being able to feel you can set achievable goals for the future. It may not be possible to return to the way you were prior to neck pain or being injured and requires adapting to a new definition of normal. There may not be the ability to return to activities where you were productive or not to have to rely on medication or expecting not to have pain.

Recovery may involve having to be accepting of a new reality where some abilities are limited, however, still have a sense that there is a reasonable potential for being successful and having personal satisfaction. Therefore, it may be necessary to readjust and accept; having a sense of what you can and cannot do, not just due to neck pain, but other activity related restrictions like age.

Sometimes you have to be so careful about things you do because you know you will pay the price later because of pain. It can be frustrating and produce anger when you have to make excuses because you don’t feel like explaining things like why you are not as capable as you used to be and why you have these restrictions. This can lead to a loss of self worth and be a shock to your ego, leading to a lack of confidence. You remember what it felt like to be strong and confident, but now feel helpless due to the pain and limitations.

While you may not be the same person you were before the neck pain, feeling like you know your limitations, you can still have a sense of recovery if you can be more accepting of your current limitations and future potential. This may mean having to reassess life’s goals or finding positivity in a situation that is generally negative. Your life may have been turned upside down and have been slowed down a great deal, but it made you listen to your body and mind, which is important and can become a source of strength.

Neck Pain Recovery – Final Thoughts

Recovering from neck pain involves many variables; from reducing signs and symptoms, to accepting the situation and re-establishing a sense of self. This includes the function as well as structure of damaged or injured tissues, levels of activity as well as participation is a gratifying life experience. Improving social interactions with family, friends and community members, feeling freedom from being trapped in a situation with no end, not being stigmatized and having credibility and being able to establish goals for achievement and personal growth are keys to recovery.

Individuals with pain are seeking satisfaction and happiness with the same intensity as relief of their symptoms, which is a strong measure of recovery and assessment of disability. Tips for neck injury recovery.

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.