The neck is part of a long flexible column, known as the spinal column or backbone, which extends through most of the body. The cervical spine (neck region) consists of seven bones, which are separated from one another by intervertebral discs. These discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity. Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture — whether it’s leaning over your computer or hunching over your workbench. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain. The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain may be caused by disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, arthritis and, in rare cases, cancer or meningitis. Age, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis can lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form. Sudden severe injury to the neck may also contribute to disc herniation, whiplash, blood vessel destruction, vertebral injury and, in extreme cases, permanent paralysis. Pressure on a nerve root by a herniated disc or a bone spur may result in:
- Pain in the arm and neck
- Numbness or weakness in the arm or forearm
- Tingling in the fingers or hand
Pressure on the spinal cord in the cervical region can be a very serious problem because virtually all the nerves to the rest of the body have to pass through the neck to reach their final destination (arms, chest, abdomen, legs). This can potentially compromise the function of many important organs.
Other causes include the following:
Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, neck pain can result.
Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures. This condition often happens in hands or knees, but it can also occur in the neck.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.
As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This is known as spondylosis, or osteoarthritis of the neck. This can narrow the space between the vertebrae. It also adds stress to your joints.
When a disk protrudes, as from a trauma or injury, it may add pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This is called a herniated cervical disk, also known as a ruptured or slipped disk.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows and causes pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots as it exits the vertebrae. This can be due to long-term inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain that’s often worsened by holding your head in one place for long periods, such as when driving or working at a computer
- Muscle tightness and spasms
- Decreased ability to move your head
Treatment of Neck Pain
Determining a treatment strategy depends mainly on identifying the location and cause of the irritated nerve root. Trigger point injection, including corticosteroids, can temporarily relieve pain. Occasionally, epidural steroids may be recommended. Conservative treatment options may continue for up to six or eight weeks.
There are several surgical treatments available to treat cervical spine disorders. Factors that help determine the type of surgical treatment include the specifics of the disc disease and the presence or absence of pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. Other factors include age, how long the patient has had the disorder, other medical conditions and if there has been previous cervical spine surgery. The benefits of surgery should always be weighed carefully against its risks. Although a large percentage of neck pain patients report significant pain relief after surgery, there is no guarantee that surgery will help every individual.
To know more about the details regarding the disease, contact Medisys Hospital, a growing super speciality hospital in Hyderabad. They aid in improving patients’ health. You will get the best treatment according to your symptoms.