Pain located in the neck is a very common condition. Neck pain can come from a number of activities, disorders and diseases in the neck, such as degenerative disc disease, neck strain, whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve. It can also come from overuse, sports injuries, and everyday home and work related activities. Usually, there is an underlying instability or problem in the neck that is a precursor to the pain. Neck pain is also referred to as cervical pain.
Neck pain is commonly associated with dull aching. Sometimes pain in the neck is worsened with movement of the neck. Other symptoms associated with some forms of neck pain include numbness, tingling, tenderness, sharp shooting pain, fullness, difficulty swallowing, pulsations, swishing sounds in the head, dizziness or lightheadedness, and gland swelling.
Incredibly, the cervical spine supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck very susceptible to pain and injury.
The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear.
Causes of Neck Pain:
Injury and Accidents:
A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the inter-vertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.
– Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
– Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.
– Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Herniated discs are NOT an effect of growing older and are a direct effect of trauma, but can also cause similar reduction in elasticity and height of the intervertebral disc, but have the potential to cause more serious problems.
Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
When considering solutions for neck pain, you must look at what will help you and how long it will take to get better. Like with any malady, the progression of treatment should be drugless first, involve drugs second and have surgery as a final option. Studies show that chiropractic care significantly improves cervical pain. A study done in 2008 showed that not only did chiropractic drastically improve people with acute (short term) neck pain, but also in those with musculoskeletal disorders (more long term).
Call today to schedule an appointment to relieve your neck pain!
Learn more here: Conditions We Treat: Upper Back/Neck Pain
(MedicineNet.com, 2008, http://www.medicinenet. com/neck_pain/article.htm)
(American Chiropractic Association, n.d., http://www.acatoday.or/ content_css.cfm?CID=2430)