The neck is that part of the spine that begins with the vertebrae from the skull and ends at the upper portion of the torso. It is also called the cervical spine. Therefore, neck pain is not only restricted to the neck, but its cause and effects are rooted throughout the spine.
Almost everyone experiences neck pain, to a certain degree, at some point in his or her life. Neck pain is a very common condition that results from a variety of underlying factors. It could either be acute neck pain (that occurs for a short period of time) or chronic pain (that persists for an extended period).
You could also experience mild neck pain from straining your neck muscles. However, this usually resolves in itself within a few days. Neck pain, in many cases, may be the symptom of a serious underlying condition. In such a scenario, the pain can only be relieved after treating the root problem. It is advisable to seek medical expertise, if a neck ache persists for more than a week.
A wide variety of symptoms are related to neck pain. This pain can range from a mild annoyance to excruciating and unbearable pain. It may be restricted to one spot or it could radiate throughout the body. The symptoms that are associated with neck pain are headaches, stiffness or soreness, shoulder pain, numbness, tingling, radiating pain and a sharp shooting pain. As neck pain develops, it can become difficult to turn your head, sleep, or walk and routine physical activities become difficult. The cause of the neck pain determines the symptoms that the patient will exhibit and the course of treatment that will be required. That is why it is essential to seek consultation from a doctor for the diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
What are the causes for neck pain?
One of the most common causes for neck pain is cervical spondylosis. Spondylosis is a degenerative spinal disorder that damages the discs, joints, bones and cartilage of the neck as well as the spinal column. The resulting symptoms range from stiffness of the neck and shoulder, and an inability to walk due to the severity of spinal pain. The condition of cervical spondylosis leads to an overgrowth of bones, compression of the spine, dehydration of the spinal discs or a herniated disc. Spondylosis can manifest itself as a severe neck ache, especially if you spend prolonged periods in front of the computer without taking adequate breaks in between. Neck pain from spondylosis can get aggravated by sleeping on a pillow or in an awkward position. Keeping a check on your body posture and refraining from straining your neck and spine is advisable, in order to avoid neck pain. The treatment for spondylosis includes neck exercises, medication and physiotherapy.
An injury to the neck can lead to symptoms such as stiffness of the neck, severe neck pain and headaches. A common form of neck injury, called whiplash, occurs due to a sudden jerk of the head. This might heal and resolve itself without the necessity for medications. On the other hand, it is possible to injure your neck severely, so much so that it results in permanent damage of the spine. Athletes and people whose occupation involves strenuous activity, are at a higher risk of developing a neck injury. A car accident, a sport injury or a fall could cause you to fracture your spine and neck bones, resulting in muscles or ligament tear. For a minor neck injury, applying an ice pack and exercising the neck may give you relief. If the neck injury is severe, you could be hospitalized. The treatment for a serious neck injury includes pain relief medicines, a medical neck brace and surgery.
This is a common occurrence. You might strain your neck muscles by sitting in one position for prolonged periods, sleeping in an awkward position, maintaining bad body posture, reading while sleeping or by a sudden jolting movement of the head. Bad body posture such as craning your neck to watch the television or sitting in front of the computer with your back hunched for long periods can cause severe neck pain. The doctor may prescribe pain relief medication as well as a neck brace that will help to relieve the pain in your neck.
The condition of rheumatoid arthritis causes a swelling of the joints, an overgrowth of bones and pain in the neck or other affected areas. Severe neck pain is one of the symptoms of this condition. The treatment for arthritis includes anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain relief medications. The symptoms of neck pain can be alleviated with the help of physiotherapy and medications. Physiotherapy involves a variety of neck exercises that actually relieve the pressure and pain from your neck. Many devices such as cervical collars, spinal and neck braces are efficient in dealing with neck pain.
If neck pain is preventing you from carrying out routine activities, it is important that you consult a doctor or avail physiotherapy services without delay.