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Neck pain is an annoying symptom and could suggest some problems that can range from something innocent to something more alarming. I will discuss some of the potential causes, treatments that you need to consider, prevention strategies to try and alarm symptoms that are life-threatening if you miss. 

When it comes to neck pain, the most probable cause of discomfort stems from some mechanical injury that you have received, and this injury can be anything from a muscle strain after carrying a heavy bag to sleeping on an overly-stiff or too fluffy pillow. Neck pain may be an inconvenience for a few hours during your day but for the most part, these conditions will heal on their own, and the only thing you can do is to limit the physical strain for a few days. 

For people suffering from this type of neck pain, the most appropriate treatment would be some painkillers like Tylenol or Advil and neck manipulation therapies. Massages or warm baths can reduce the pain on tense muscles in your neck and can help speed the time to recovery. 

As we progress in this discussion, we will now come to more severe problems related to neck pain. One possibility that could lead to chronic neck pain would be the manifestation of what can occur after chronic mechanical injury or straining: disc degenerations in the cervical spinal cord and these are much more problematic. These degenerations can come in the form of annular tears or more overt disc herniations that can manifest as intense shooting pain that radiates to different parts of your body. 

There are no easy ways to avoid these types of injuries because microtraumas are a part of life. Patients may benefit from physical therapy sessions to learn exercises to strengthen as well as alleviate pain to minimize the damage to the disc destruction. Patients should take proactive measures to try to improve the bone structure because as patient ages, bone destruction in the form of osteoporosis will only make these problems worse. Patients can achieve proactive measures with prophylactic Vitamin D and bisphosphonate supplementation. 

The last category that you need to familiarize yourself with is the most crucial for your survival. When you start to notice severe neck pain, crushing headaches, photophobia and increased temperature, you need to get to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. Neck pain is one of the alarm symptoms of meningitis, which is an infection of your brain and viruses, fungi or bacteria can cause it. The neck pain appears because your brain is swelling and the fluid that makes up your spinal cord now has a smaller space to occupy compared to before. 

Taking prophylactic antibiotics is not an effective way to prevent the disease but you can try to avoid exposures when possible. Exercise caution when you swim in warm lakes as this is typically a breeding ground for dangerous pathogens. If you do start to notice a headache and a stiff neck, get to the hospital as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the more dangerous the infection will get. [1]

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