I have had neck pain for approximately 2-4 years now. When I was younger it did tend to "crack" once in a while, but never hurt or did it very often.
Nowadays, my neck becomes very stiff and sore, I get headaches (which I am unsure if the headaches cause the neck pain or the neck pain causes the headaches), and my neck cracks a lot and gets stiff/painful very easily. I also used to think that when my neck became warm (i.e. having a scarf on, my hair down in the summer, etc) it began to hurt, but now I am thinking my neck becomes warm when it hurts (as in, first the pain, then the heat). My fiance has felt my neck when it becomes hot and says it feels like my neck "has a fever". Sometimes I have to "manipulate" my neck into extreme rotation, either with my hands or by laying down and pushing the side of my head against the ground and rotating my body the opposite direction, to find short-lived relief. I am also finding these days that letting my head fall backward helps occasionally to relieve pain. Tipping the head from side to side and straining/holding will also cause cracking and help for a matter of seconds with pain. I have tried both hot packs and ice packs and these work intermittently and vary as to which one does the trick. Tylenol or Advil works occasionally, but I try to avoid using it too often due to liver damage, etc. I was on Dilaudid and Baclofen for about a month and this did and didn't help; some days it would work, some days it had no effect. I have troubles sleeping (restlessness and pain). I tend to wake up very stiff and painful through the neck and upper back (between the shoulder blades). I try to stretch between the shoulder blades by doing a cat stretch or grasping my hands together and reaching far out in front of me either in sitting or standing and this does help, but only for a matter of minutes. Neck pain/stiffness can range anywhere between 0/10 to 10/10 with an average of 7/10. The thoracic/upper back pain can range anywhere between 0/10 to 7/10 with an average of 4/10.
I have jaw pain that becomes worse when the neck pain is worse. This includes cracking, stiffness, warm to touch, and pain. I have had a click in my jaw for as long as I can remember - a deep clunk in the right joint, and more of a grinding noise in the left joint (which I tend to describe as the sound that is made when you break a glow stick - like tiny gravel or rice).
I have also had dull/achy shoulder pain, right worse than left, for some time now as well. The right shoulder has issues with full rotation and has a lot of deep clunking when attempting to do so. I find reaching behind my back is more difficult with the right than the left and causes a pulling sensation over the top of the shoulder.
I also have hyperthyroidism and am taking Tapazole 5 mg per day. This was diagnosed just over a year ago and so far has been well-controlled, though I am overdue for another blood test.
Basically, I am frustrated and worried, but I am also the kind of person who puts off going to see someone because either a) I am worried it will be nothing and I will have made a big deal out of something that is not and end up looking silly, or b) it will be something and it will either be scary or end up costing me a lot (i.e. for medication, treatment, etc), though I know if it is needed it is worth it.
Should I be seeing someone for these problems? I mean, I know I should...but is it worth my time? Or do you suppose they might just tell me to continue using heat/ice, medication, stretches as needed and that nothing can be done?
Thank you for any help, I look forward to reading responses!
Frustrated and Painful