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Why do I have a pulsating pain in my neck (and what can I do about it)?

Have a pulsating pain in your neck and want to know what to do about it?

We’re here to help.

In this article, we’ll list some conditions that could be causing your pain and show you some ways to manage it.

Keep reading to learn more.

Causes of pulsating neck pain

Severe neck pain can stem from many health conditions and injuries. Here are just a few of them:

  • Herniated disc — Your spine has soft, rubbery discs that sit between your vertebrae to cushion any impact on your spine. A herniated disc occurs when one of these cushions slips out of place, leaving your vertebrae unprotected as they rub against each other. 
  • Nerve compression — In some cases, a herniated disc can press up against a nerve ending in your back. When this happens, your nerves will send out pain signals and you’ll feel unpleasant sensations, especially when you move around.
  • Degenerative disc disease — Unfortunately, our joints tend to wear away as we get older, giving our vertebrae room to move around and grind up against each other. While it occurs in most adults, this condition is referred to as degenerative disc disease, and it can be a cause of significant pain in the back or neck.
  • Whiplash — If you’ve recently been in a car accident, ridden a roller coaster, or suffered an injury that unexpectedly jerked your neck back and forth, your neck pain may be due to whiplash. This condition, which is characterized by tears in the neck’s soft tissue, can take weeks or even months to heal.
  • Muscle strains — Muscle strains occur when your muscles are overstretched or torn. They may be acute muscle strains caused by a single event or repetitive strain injuries caused by recurring motions, like regularly arching your neck toward the TV screen when playing video games.
  • ArthritisArthritis is an umbrella term for diseases that create inflammation in the joints. While all forms of arthritis work differently, they can all cause pain. If you have inflammation in your neck joints, it could be the reason you have a pulsating pain in your neck.
  • Gout — Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by a surplus of uric acid in the body that leads to the formation of sharp crystals in the joints. Inflammation occurs as a side effect of the body’s attempt to break down these crystals, putting additional pressure on the joints and nerves.

What should I do about a pulsating pain in my neck?

If you struggle with chronic neck pain or a pulsating pain in your neck that lasts for more than a week, you may want to consult a physical therapist. They can introduce you to stretches and exercises that address neck pain, and they will also identify any bad habits in your posture that are causing you discomfort. Over time, this will not only help to relieve your pain but can prevent it from coming back.

In addition, you might try using the RICE method at home (a method that physical therapists often suggest in addition to stretching and exercise). RICE stands for:

  • Rest — Give your body time to recover from any injuries.
  • Ice — Numb the affected area and slow your circulation to reduce inflammation.
  • Compression — Use a compression garment to squeeze any excess fluid away from the sore spot, relieving your nerves and joints of any pressure.
  • Elevation — Lie down with your neck above the level of your heart to help drain fluid downward.

What if I don’t have time for physical therapy?

We get it; physical therapy can feel like a big time investment, especially if you’ve not had surgery or a major injury. Can you justify a drive to the PT clinic and several hours of class each month for a neck pain?

While in-person treatment has many benefits and is necessary for some people, virtual physical therapy is a great option in many cases. As an Agile Virtual PT patient, you’ll meet with a licensed specialist online, from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a mobile device with an internet connection and a little bit of clear space to stretch and exercise.

You’ll save time on the commute, you can meet with your clinician at whatever time works best for your schedule, and you can get treated for that pulsating pain in your neck without leaving your house.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.