Common Causes of Neck Pain

Neck PainMany of us will experience neck pain one time or another in our life. Whether it feels like a minor “kink” in the neck, chronic stiffness or severe pain from an injury, it’s always important to address the source.

As a very vulnerable part of the spine, the neck is susceptible to injury. Sources of neck pain are typically due to spine, muscle ligament and nerve injuries. Neck pain can be acute or chronic. Acute neck pain comes on suddenly due to an injury and the pain usually resolves within several days or weeks as the injury heals. Chronic neck pain, on the other hand, lasts longer than three months and may be the cause of structural changes in the spine from degenerative diseases.

Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of neck pain:

Common Causes of Neck Pain

Stinger from a Sports Injury

A stinger, also known as a burner, is an injury to the nerves that are located from your neck down into your arm most commonly occurring during contact sports, such as football.

Symptoms include a burning or stinging feeling, arm or shoulder numbness, weakness or a tingly sensation. They usually get better on their own within a few days, but additional therapy may be necessary to aid in recovery.

Strain from Whiplash

Neck strains often occur when the head and neck are forcibly moved during a car accident causing whiplash injury. Whiplash can also occur from sports injuries or amusement park rides. Pain may start immediately after the injury or it could even take up to a few days to develop. Additional symptoms of whiplash include stiffness, headaches and feeling dizzy.

Fracture from Impact

As the most serious neck injury, a fracture means that a vertebra has been broken. Fractures occur from a high-force impact, such as from a car crash, fall or serious sports impact and can cause serious pain, numbness or even paralysis.

But even without a specific injury, neck pain can occur.

Strain from Sleeping

Sudden minor neck movements usually cause minor ligament sprains or muscular strains where the muscles become tight and painful. But this can also be caused by sleeping with your neck in an awkward position at night.

Stress Spasms

When stressed, some people respond by tensing up the muscles of their neck, shoulders, and upper back. Chronic spasm in these muscles can cause neck pain and even lead to headaches.

Degenerative Disease

Breakdown of spinal structures from arthritis and other degenerative diseases can cause pressure on the spinal cords or nerves leading to chronic or occasional neck pain.

Bulging Spinal Disk Pressure

Pressure on spinal nerves can be caused by bulging spinal disks. As a natural result of aging or repeated small injuries to the neck, this kind of pressure causes tingling, pain, or numbness that spreads throughout the neck into the shoulder, arm, or hand on one side.

Treatment for Neck Pain Available at eMedical Urgent Care

As always, a medical examination by a qualified physician is necessary to identify the cause of your pain and determine the appropriate course of treatment. Be prepared to discuss symptoms and your medical history as well as perform simple neck movements to assess muscular strength, join motion and stability.

Additional tests, such as X-rays, bone scans, CT or MRI scans, may by ordered to identify the source of your neck pain. And although neck pain is typically treated with non-surgical methods such as medication, rest and physical therapy, but if neck pain symptoms progress, there are a variety of other treatments we can discuss with you.

Treatment for Neck Pain is available now at eMedical Urgent Care. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month: Recognizing Head and Neck Injuries

Head and Neck InjuriesEvery year, throughout January, The Johnny OTM Foundation, along with the CDC, local urgent care centers, like eMedical Urgent Care, and surrounding sports clubs, work to raise awareness about common health risks related to participation in winter sports. Some of the common injuries related to winter sports include sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures. While all winter sports injuries should be taken seriously, head and neck injuries are especially serious as they have the potential to cause long-term health problems.

About National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 50, safety in the snow is important for all ages. The more you know, the more you and your family can have a safe and healthy winter season.

TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s a common result of head and neck injuries associated with winter activities such as skating, skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, sledding and tobogganing. The Johnny O Foundation along with National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month is a public campaign to highlight the dangers and importance of taking precautionary measures when participating in those sports. Their main goal is to decrease TBIs in the country.

Statistics on Head and Neck Injuries

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, each year, there are approximately 1.7 million head injuries in the United States. Commonly caused by falling or colliding into another person or object while skiing or skating, many of these accidents lead to head injures such as a concussion or TBI.

The top causes of TBI include:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Softball & Basketball
  • Water Sports
  • Soccer
  • Powered Recreational Vehicles
  • Skateboards
  • Scooters
  • Golf
  • Fitness & Exercise
  • Winter Sports
  • Horseback Riding
  • Gymnastics
  • Dance
  • Cheerleading

However, not all head and neck injuries are related to sports. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 30% of TBI causes results from falls. So, whether you’re taking the dog out for a walk on an icy sidewalk or hitting the ice for a hockey game, you could be at risk. But just because there’s risk, that’s no reason to lock up and put life on hold. Go ahead and head out to enjoy the New Jersey snow, just exercise caution.

Preventing Head and Neck Injuries in the Winter

Since falls are one of the leading causes of TBIs, take caution on icy surfaces: walk slowly, wear boots with good tread and pay attention to the surface you’re walking on.

Preventive measures, such as wearing protective head equipment, choosing helmets that fit correctly and following safety rules, can help those who participate in winter sports prevent head and neck injuries. New to the sport? Don’t be afraid to take lessons.

Proceed with Caution

If you suspect a loved one has suffered a concussion or TBI, it is important to take the injured individual out of the activity until he or she has been thoroughly evaluated by an experienced medical professional. We offer convenient walk-in hours designed to fit your busy schedule; learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

The physicians at eMedical Urgent Care want to remind you and your loved ones to enjoy the winter season, but stay safe by taking proper precautions during play.

First Aid and Treatment for Burns

First Aid and Treatment for BurnsBurns are the most common household injury, especially in children. They are classified as either first-degree, second-degree, third-degree or fourth-degree according to the depth of the burn.

Treatment for burns varies by degree. Major burns require a trip to the ER, and minor burns can be treated at your local eMedical Urgent Care center, which is why it’s important to be able to identify their differences.

Burn Classifications

There are 4 different classifications of burns:

  • First-degree burns are considered minor. They can cause red skin but rarely blister. Some first-degree burns are fine if treated at home but some cases require a visit to urgent care (for example, if the burn measures larger than 3 inches or is located on your face or a major joint).
  • Second-degree burns are considered more serious than first-degree burns and cause blistering and thickening of the skin. Most second-degree burns heal within 2 to 3 weeks but can take longer and require a visit to your local urgent care center. The length of recovery is dependent on the severity and size of the burn and blistering.
  • Third-degree burns are considered major and require a trip to the Emergency Room. They can cause a widespread thickening of the skin, as well as a white or black leathery appearance.
  • Fourth-degree burns are the most serious as they extend beyond the skin into tendons and bones.

Common Myths about Treatment for Burns

Myths about how to treat a minor burn are numerous and these incorrect first aid treatments can be dangerous and cause more damage than cure. They include various home remedies like covering a burn with butter, grease or oil. Doing so will only cause the skin to retain heat (which is exactly the opposite of what you want to do). It also can make it difficult for medical staff to clean the affected area.

Other wild misconceptions include things like applying toothpaste, cold meat, vinegar, mustard, whipped cream and even fish sauce!

Suggested Treatment for Burns

When you need to act fast, it’s important to know what to do to treat a minor burn. First, remove the source of heat (including clothes if necessary) and cool the area by immersing the burn in cool, sterile water (not ice) or saline solution. You also may cover the affected area with a cool, wet dressing until the burning stops. In the case of a chemical burn, dilute the chemical agent by irrigating with water continuously.

Seek Immediate Attention for Burns at eMedical Urgent Care

Even simple burns should be treated properly (and immediately) to prevent bacterial infections. If the burn is the size of your palm or larger, seek medical attention immediately. Early treatment of minor burns greatly impacts how well you heal.

eMedical Urgent Care treats first- and second-degree burns and injuries at both of our locations. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Treatment for Wounds and Lacerations

If you or a loved one has experienced a wound or laceration, you may be in shock and wondering whether to go to the emergency department or urgent care. Treatment for wounds all depends on the location and the size of the cut.

Should I Go to the ED or Urgent Care?

Different kinds of injuries lead to different kinds of wounds including abrasions, lacerations, crush wounds, puncture wounds and avulsions.

For something that is less than three inches, the patient can come to eMedical Urgent Care for immediate care and treatment. If the cut is longer than three inches or extremely deep, tendon or deep tissue may be damaged. In those cases, go to the ER so they can give more intensive repair including a possibly surgery.

At-Home Wound Care

For bleeding lacerations, before you make your way to urgent care or the ER (based on the location and size mentioned above), the first thing you should do is to apply direct pressure. Place a clean rag or gauze on the cut and hold pressure. If you can’t control the bleeding, don’t take the bandage off; rather, keep that one on and put another one on top. Ice can also be helpful in stopping the bleeding and can decrease swelling as well. If the wound is dirty, wash it with warm water and soap to remove any large particles of dirt and debris. Also, keep the injury elevated above the heart level to slow the bleeding.

For treatment of wounds less than three inches, go to eMedical Urgent Care for a physical evaluation, proper cleaning of the cut and possible suture repair. However, if the bleeding “pulses,” this could indicate an artery has been cut, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Keep Wounds Clean and Dry

The best way to take care of a suture wound is to keep it clean and dry. When an area is wet, it doesn’t heal as well. If a bandage or it gets wet or dirty, change it. Also, watch for signs of redness, swelling or discharge which could indicate a sign of infection.

Sunlight can inhibit the healing process, so keep the area covered and protected from ultraviolet light. If the cut doesn’t require stitches, the best at-home wound care is washing the area with soap and water regularly to clean out any germs.

Put small amounts of antibiotics ointment on the wound to speed up the healing process as well. It’s important to keep the area clean and dry to prevent scarring or infection.

Animal Bites

Dog, cats and human bites are considered puncture wounds and can introduce bacteria into the wound. This can lead to infection, so antibiotics are typically prescribed. If the bite was from a wild animal such as bats, snakes or rabid dogs, you may need a rabies vaccination from the ED.

Tetanus Concern

Tetanus is a bacteria that is found in dirt. If a victim is cut by a rusty nail, fence other questionable object, tetanus is commonly a concern. Adults should have a tetanus shot every 5 years to stay protected. eMedical Urgent Care conveniently offers the tetanus shot; in fact, the vaccine most commonly given in our offices is a combination of Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis, called the TDaP vaccine.

Walk-In Treatment

If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care is open during the evening and weekend hours to treat walk-in patients. Treatment for wounds, cuts and lacerations is available at eMedical Urgent Care in Middletown and Berkeley Heights, NJ.

Checklist: Are You Prepared for a Hurricane?

Hurricane SafetyeMedical Urgent Care reminds you to be prepared and safe during hurricane season. Hurricanes and other natural disasters can happen anytime and anywhere, so it is important to be prepared before a disaster strikes. Take time to make sure you and your family are ready should a natural disaster affect your home or community.

“It is important for families to have a disaster supply kit, an evacuation plan and a family communication plan,” said Jane Sennett, DO, medical director of eMedical Urgent Care. “Every community in the country is vulnerable to one or more type of disasters, so it’s important for individuals and families to be prepared.”

Dr. Sennett identified several important actions to take before a disaster. First, create and maintain a disaster supply kit; next, create and maintain an evacuation plan; lastly, develop a family communications plan.

Disaster Supply Kit

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including food for your pets
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Seasonal clothing and bedding
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting for shelter and duct tape to keep it in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities – ensure all family members know how to turn off electricity, gas and water to your home
  • Local maps
  • Cellphone with charger, inverter or solar charger

Evacuation Plan

  • Write down the location of shelters, a friend’s home in another town or a motel –  including addresses, phone numbers and travel or evacuation routes
  • Identify important documents, irreplaceable personal mementos, medications and pet supplies to collect on short notice and take with you

Family Communications Plan

  • Establish a friend or relative to serve as family contact – after a disaster it’s often easier to call long distance outside of the disaster area
  • Create a contact schedule for a family to follow to maximize battery life of cell phones

For more information on emergency preparedness, please visit www.ready.gov.

Top Tips for Fire Pit Safety

Fire Pit SafetyFire pits are popular, functional and very dangerous – that is why eMedical Urgent Care is warning patients of the dangers of fire pits and recommending safety measures.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits or outdoor fireplaces are the No. 1 requested design features for outdoor living. While they may look attractive, bringing warmth and light to your outdoor space, it’s important to remember that fire pits and fire features do come with risks to people, pets and property.

eMedical Urgent Care’s Medical Director Jane Sennett, DO, offers the following safety tips to keep in mind when using a fire pit:

  • Be aware of weather conditions before starting a fire
  • Do not leave a fire pit unattended
  • Put out any fire completely
  • Follow all seasonal fire restrictions
  • Keep children a safe distance from any fire pit
  • Burn dry or seasoned wood
  • Never use accelerants, garbage or garden clippings to start a fire
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Keep a first aid kit close for accidental burns

By following these safety measures, you can make your fire pit evenings enjoyable and safe.

Getting Medical Care While On Vacation

Medical Care On VacationVacations are supposed to be a relaxing time spent away from the daily stressors so you can enjoy more fun-filled time with your family and friends. However, there are times when illnesses or accidents occur that can bring the focus away from your trip to the Jersey shore to finding the appropriate medical care. If you are visiting from out of state or perhaps you are hosting friends or family from out out-of-town, rest assured that if someone gets injured or becomes ill, they will be provided with great doctors and great care at eMedical Urgent Care.

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Whether your child has a sore throat on your trip to Point Pleasant or you are thrown by a wave and injure your ankle while paddle boarding on the Navesink River, it’s important to seek the necessary medical care you need when you need it. You don’t need to wait days (or weeks) to see your hometown doctor when you can be seen by our emergency medicine physicians right away. We provide great care seven days a week without the long waits and expenses. Even on weekends, evenings and holidays we‘re here; our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. We pledge that, on average, you’ll be seen by one of our professional providers within 30 minutes.Visiting eMedical Urgent Care allows you to been seen by a doctor quickly who will assess your condition so you can be on the road to recovery…and get back to the beach.

Save Money on Quality Care

Emergency room visits can be very expensive. This can become even more pricy if you go to a hospital’s ER when on vacation because many insurance plans have steep charges for out-of-network coverage of treatment for injuries or illness. Choosing eMedical urgent care instead of going to the emergency room can save you the shock of an outrageously high bill when you get home. As your Middletown and Berkeley Heights urgent care facility, eMedical helps you get the medical care you need without worrying about costs. We work with a number of health insurance providers; call to confirm coverage of your visit and learn more about the services we offer.
As an affordable option for the uninsured, we also offer a discount eCard program.

Enjoy Your New Jersey Vacation

Getting ill or injured while on vacation or even traveling on business can be frustrating. Rather than waiting for hours in an emergency room, you can ensure that you and your loved ones will receive the treatment that’s needed, when it’s needed. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Feel better knowing we’re here.