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Neck strain and stiffness, used heat pad and muscle cream. Cramps in leg, arm pain, chest heaviness, dizziness. Is it from stress?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
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Over the past 2 months approximately, I have been experiencing bad neck strain and stiffness when turning my head to the sides. I feel it primarily in the back of my head/neck and somewhat near the bottom, into my back. I have tried using a heat bad as well as muscle cream and hot water but nothing has helped to permanently relieve this. I don't believe that this has been caused by an injury or anything but I have been extremely stressed out this year.

I have days where I get angry or agitated very easily and find it hard to control my emotions. Although I haven't had any outbursts of rage or anything I feel as If this is something that is very serious and has been bothering me for a while. Not only do I have this neck problem but I have also experienced symptoms such as a constant cramp or bulge feeling in my left leg (for about 2 months) as well as left arm pain (on and off) as well as heaviness in my chest. I have also had days where I feel slightly dizzy or light headed and almost sick to my stomach, as well as tired all the time. This sensation usually lasts about 30 minutes until passing.

Not only do these symptoms scare me but also make me feel somewhat depressed. I get emotional very easily and try my best to overcome or find ways to release somehow but I am finding it very hard to do.

Should I seek medical attention? Is my neck pain simply from stress or something worse? Is there a way or ways that I can control my emotions and help relieve the stress on my own?

Thank you.
Posted Thu, 21 Jun 2012 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 5 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
The neck pain and the symptoms you are having could be due to cervical spondylosis. Anxiety can be the cause if other organic causes have been ruled out.
X-ray of neck in lateral view or MRI will help in the diagnosis.

Treatment includes
1. Use of cervical collar helps in immobilisation and brings relief.
2. Medical drugs like pain killers - acetaminophen/ibuprofen and muscle relaxants might be helpful.
3. Methylcobalamin supplements are also recommended for nerve compression symptoms.
4. Cervical isometric exercises are beneficial to maintain the strength of the neck muscles. Neck and upper back stretching exercises, as well as light aerobic activities, also are recommended under the guidance of a physical therapist.
5. Hot fomentation helps in relieving acute symptoms.
6. You can avoid using a pillow and abnormal neck positions.

As you try these measures, I also encourage you to consult an orthopedician for both evaluation and to avail stronger prescription medications (if over the counter medications are not helpful).
I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Neck strain and stiffness, used heat pad and muscle cream. Cramps in leg, arm pain, chest heaviness, dizziness. Is it from stress? 43 minutes later
Hi Doctor.

What about my stress/depression related issues?
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 3 hours later
Thanks for writing again.
Stress and depression can also cause such symptoms but these should be considered only after the organic causes have been ruled out after proper examination and investigations.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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