July 21, 2017

Neck Pain: Causes, symptoms and relief

Neck, Back and Spine

The neck is exposed to injury and disorders that cause significant pain because it supports the weight of the head while also having a significant amount of motion.

Anatomy

The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The vertebrae, ligaments and muscles provide stability to the spine.

Cause

Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues, such as the muscles, ligaments and nerves; however, the bones and discs of the spine can also cause pain. Most commonly, it is caused by soft-tissue abnormalities due to injury such as a neck sprain or from prolonged wear and tear. In rare cases, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. Additionally, pain in the neck may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms.

Because the neck is so flexible it is prone to injuries in car accidents, contact sports and sudden falls. These accidents can cause neck hyperextension (a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits) or hyperflexion (a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits). A neck sprain or tear can also occur in one or more of the soft tissues in the neck.

Cervical disc degeneration, also called spondylosis, can also be a source of pain in the neck. This happens when the normal gelatin-like center of the disc degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. This causes further wear and degenerative disease. The cervical disc may also put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots when the rim of the disc weakens, called herniated cervical disc. Severe neck injuries with a fracture or dislocation may damage the spinal cord and cause paralysis.

Symptoms

  • Pain in the neck that worsens with movement
  • Muscle spasms and pain in the shoulder
  • Headaches
  • Numbness in the arm or hand
  • Neck stiffness and decreased range of motion
  • Tingling or weakness in the arms

Neck pain relief

If severe pain occurs after an accident a trained professional should immediately immobilize the patient to avoid the risk of further injury. Immediate care should also be sought when an injury causes pain in the neck that radiates down the arms and legs.

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH AN ORTHOINDY SPINE SURGEON

For many people, pain is a temporary condition that disappears with time. If you have not experienced an extreme injury, you should seek neck pain relief when pain is:

  • Severe
  • Persistent
  • Accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling or weakness

To determine why you are experiencing pain, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe symptoms and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI , is usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis

Learn more about treatment options for neck and back pain at OrthoIndy.

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief cover

The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Relief

Find out what's causing your back pain and how you can treat it with OrthoIndy's ultimate guide to healing back pain.

Read the guide

Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan is the current Marketing Team Lead at OrthoIndy. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor and has been with OrthoIndy since June 2012.

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