A complex network of nerves, joints, bones and muscles, the neck performs the vital roles of providing strength, stability, and nerve communication. Given these multiple functions, the neck is sensitive and prone to many injuries that may cause varying degrees of pain. Knowing these conditions and causes is important to avoid neck pain and treat its occurrence.
Causes of neck pain
Neck pain can be attributed to many factors and can arise out of something as simple as sleeping in the wrong position. Other complex causes include irritation of the spinal cord that can cause pain to spread from the neck to the shoulders and arms. The best way to treat neck pain is to clearly understand the medical condition that’s behind the discomfort. Let’s take a brief look at the primary causes of neck pain:
As the years go by, it’s natural to experience some amount of wear and tear of the cervical spine. The discs experience a loss in hydration and are unable to protect the spine’s vertebrae. Degeneration of the components of the neck results in two painful conditions:
- -Cervical spondylosis
This age-related condition affects the spinal discs in the neck and is one of the first signs of osteoarthritis. Cervical spondylosis is quite common and afflicts a majority of people above the age of 60.
- -Spinal stenosis
Occurring mostly in the neck and lower back, this condition is caused by the narrowing of spaces within the spine, which puts pressure on the nerves travelling through it.
One of the most common causes of neck pain, bad posture can cause gradual but significant damage. Activities such as working on a computer, using the mobile phone, watching TV or even reading a book involving tilting the head forward and putting the strain on the neck’s muscles, ligaments and strain.
Motor accidents, sports injuries or physical abuse can result in the tearing of the soft tissues along the cervical spine. One of the most common neck injuries is known as whiplash caused by suddenly and forcefully moving the neck back-and-forth, similar to the cracking of a whip.
Changes in the neck after an injury
The injuries and conditions listed above can lead to major changes in the neck resulting in temporary to life-long modifications in its structure and functioning. Here’s a look at some of the prominent changes in the neck as a result of injury or damage:
- -Prolapsed Intervertebral disc
A prolapsed intervertebral disc is the medical term for the condition known as a slipped disc. Placed between the vertebrae, these discs perform the important function of being shock absorbers. Due to injury or wear and tear the outer fibrous part of the disc breaks, allowing its gel-like core to protrude outwards. This condition causes pain not only in the area around the disc but also on the spinal cord and nerves.
- -Nerve problems in Neck
Herniated discs can lead to nerve problems in the neck resulting in cervical radiculopathy. Due to the irritation of the cervical nerve, pain is radiated along its path and affects the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers. This condition can also cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness in hands.