Dr Bernadette Carr explains the possible causes of neck pain and what to do when your child gets night terrors.


Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on neck pain and night terrors

Dr Bernadette Carr explains the possible causes of neck pain and what to do when your child gets night terrors.

Dr Bernadette Carr answers your questions on neck pain and night terrors

Q. My husband has had pain in his neck for the last four weeks. He also finds it difficult to turn his head to the left.

He doesn’t recall injuring it. Would an anti-inflammatory help?

A. Neck pain can happen due to minor trauma or postural changes.

It can be common to wake up with a ‘crick’ in the neck having slept in an unusual position or in a draught. In most cases these pains resolve on their own after a day or so.

The use of heat and anti-inflammatory painkillers is generally the first line in treatment as well as a gentle return to normal activities, keeping mobile and avoiding anything that could exacerbate the issue.

Often there will be no specific cause for a pain in the neck. It can occur in office workers who spend long periods looking at a computer while bent over at a desk.

If you have sustained an injury involving sudden twisting or jerking of the neck you can suffer from a ‘whiplash’ type injury which again will be treated with anti-inflammatory medications or possibly physiotherapy if it is slow to resolve.

If there has been no injury or trauma, wear and tear or arthritis in the joints of the neck can also be a cause for neck pain.

This will be treated with painkillers such as paracetamol and heat which can come from a hot water bottle and which can be useful in relieving pain.

The use of neck braces or collars is no longer commonly recommended.

Pain will usually resolve after the first couple of weeks but this can vary between individuals.

After this length of time, if anti-inflammatory painkillers have no effect in resolving the issue or if the pain is worsening, it is a good idea to visit your doctor who can examine the neck and possibly recommend physiotherapy or referral for investigation.

Q. My two-year-old son often wakes with night terrors. It can take an age to calm him down. Should I be worried?

A. Night terrors happen when a child wakes up suddenly from sleep (usually after about two or three hours).

Your child will be extremely frightened and difficult to console.

There are various stages of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the stage during which most dreams happen.

However, a night terror will occur during as a child is passing from deepest stage of sleep or non-REM sleep to REM sleep.

Children will be in a deep sleep and may scream or shout and stare out into the distance, or may kick and thrash, however, unlike a nightmare they will not remember this in the morning.

Night terrors can run in families and may be more likely to occur when a child is very tired or sleeping in a new environment.

A night terror can be very distressing for parents who cannot console their child while it is occurring; the main issue is generally the fright of the parents in watching the night terror.

There is usually no need to wake your child during the night terror and this is not recommended.

Often the best approach is to wait for it to pass, speaking calmly in a soothing and gentle tone waiting for the child to go back to sleep and making sure your child does not injure himself on anything nearby.

Most children will grow out of night terrors as they get older.

Only if night terrors are becoming very frequent or occurring with risk of harm to the child should it be necessary to see a doctor for review.

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