According to a report, about 30 % of people in the USA suffer from neck pain. It ranks in the top 5 disorders in the USA. The Harvard Health Publishing estimates seven out of ten people to have neck pain or related problem in their lifetime.
Resulting because of wrong postures, lifestyle and age-related degeneration of bone it results in
- Stiffness of neck restricting the range of movement
It can affect either the whole neck or particular side of the neck. Generally, it is not so severe, and pain medicines and physical therapy cure the neck pain pretty fast.
Common causes of neck pain on the left side
You may experience mild to severe ear and neck pain on the left side, and sometimes this could be felt on the shoulders too. A dull sensation of pain can be experienced under the ear or radiate down to your left arm.
Healthy living and lifting weight could get severely hampered.
The cause of neck pain on the left side gets classified into four categories.
- Because of a pinched nerve
a. Muscle strain
The neck muscles, if held in the same posture for too long, fatigue out. It happens when we sit in one place continuously, either working on the computer or doing something else.
Modern life has lots of stress to offer, and the neck pays the price. Tensions result in stiffening of neck and shoulder muscles.
c. Bad Postures
Non-ergonomic sitting, compressed seats on flights, bad sleeping postures, or unsuitable pillow will instigate a pain in the neck.
It is is also known as a pinched nerve. The nerves branch out of the cervical spine to spread to the shoulder and arm. This nerve in the neck gets pinched for various reasons and results in neck pain.
a. Cervical disc degeneration
The intervertebral discs are generally smooth and soft when healthy. But with age, it may go rigid and compress the nerves to irritate it.
b. Herniated cervical disc
The intervertebral disc itself may slip out of its place and pinch a nerve.
c. Spinal stenosis
A rare medical condition, where the spine itself narrows down and the nerves inside the spine get pinched.
Injury or fracture of the cervical spine because of sports or road accidents may lead to severe neck pain. Osteoporosis also results in cervical fracture
Infection or any injury may result in swelling and neck pain could be a symptom of that.
b. Acute torticollis
sometime the neck shifts to one side because of the shortening of the neck muscle.
c. Rheumatoid arthritis
This disease is harrowing, where the lining of the bones is spoilt. Numbness and stiff neck can also manifest.
e. Heart attack
Neck pain, along with the pain on the left side of the neck under jaw or nausea and short breath, can be a sign of a heart attack. Seek medical attention immediately. Call emergency no 911.
Benign or cancerous tumours can grow in the cervical spine, and that can be very painful.
Home treatments for neck pain
Very often, the cause of the neck pain is not severe, and you can try the following home remedies
Hot and cold therapy
- Apply ice pack on the painful area several times in a day for two to three days. If the pain does not subside or reduce, apply heat pads or do hot fomentation for a day or two. If necessary, use hot and cold packs alternatively. A hot or cold shower can also be tried instead of the hot and cold pack. The temperatures should be tolerant and not scald your skin or develop frostbites.
Pain relieve drugs
- Try Over-the-counter pain killers or NSAIDs. Mild pains because of bad posture or muscle strain will respond well to this.
Simple neck exercises
- Neck pain responds very well to physical therapies. Simple neck exercises that tend to increase the range of movement and bring in flexibility are beneficial. The neck muscles need to be stretched and relaxed and to prevent re-occurrence, you have to strengthen them.
Yoga exercises release any tension in the body. 8-9 weeks of yoga can significantly reduce your pain in the neck and help prevent them. Some yoga poses which are suitable for the neck are:
- Warrior pose
- Forward bend pose
- Trikona aasan (triangle pose)
- Cat pose
- Gaumukh aasan(cow face pose)
- Ardha matseyandra aasan (The half-fish lord pose)
Do the poses slowly and breathe regularly. Wear loose clothes and practice them in a well-ventilated place.
- Neck massage over the sore and painful areas brings instant relief. Massage with a small circular motion.
Use sleeping tools
- Bad sleeping mattress aggravates the pain. The mattress should not be very soft. So whenever in pain sleep on a firm, but not a very hard mattress. Use a neck pillow to support your head. The neck pillow holds the neck properly, and pain does not aggravate.
- Be very mindful of your sleeping posture. Do not curl your body unusually. Let the head and body be appropriately aligned.
- Avoid carrying heavy objects, that could pull your shoulder and neck to one side.Be very careful and conscious of your sitting and standing posture. Avoid bending the body too much. Do not hold the neck in one position too long. Give no reason for a stiff neck.
The left pain in the neck is not a very serious issue unless it is a symptom of some disease. And with some care, it goes away in a couple of days.
But if the pain persists for over one week and no care and home treatment makes a difference, you should consult a doctor and get yourself thoroughly checked.
Pain radiating down to your arms, through the shoulder, tingling and pinprick sensations on hand and fingers could mean a serious condition and has to be attended to medically by a qualified doctor.
Neck pain resultant of any car accident or sports injury should be immediately checked and treated by a doctor.