Continuous neck area pain is not far behind how bad low back pain in terms of the amount of constant problems it causes to both individuals and society. From a purely theoretical view point problems with the neck are more serious than those of the back if looked at in terms of the severity of the worst case scenario of a spinal cord injury. Here, however, we are talking about injuries that although painful and problematic are of a considerably less serious nature. The right medications exist like a pain killer, reliever to help relieve discomfort from tight tension, stiffness from a strained neck.
What we shall do here is cover the general anatomy of the neck, or cervical spine as it is called, before moving on to discuss common problems affecting the area and how to treat.
The neck is a simple yet complex arrangement of seven blocks of bone called vertebrae stacked on top of each other. The way they move is relative to each other via joints. One set of joint being between the bodies of the vertebrae separated by the intervertebral discs and the others via facet joints at either side of each vertebra allowing movement with the vertebra above and below.
From each side of the spine pass the nerves that branch off the spinal cord and travel to different parts of the body. Covering the whole spine are the muscles and intricate ligament systems for both stability and ways of movement.
Causes of Neck Problems
The majority of neck problems, upper or lower, can be narrowed down to three base factors.
* Degenerative This is where the natural ageing process results in thinner discs and cartilage and less flexible muscles and ligaments, amongst other things. Such changes cause normal movements and activities to become limited and painful as a result of the neck’s reduced ability to absorb shock and control the weight of the head.
* Postural. Poor or abnormal postures where the spine is out of alignment and loses its natural curvature over a prolonged period of time results in certain segments and structures of the spine cramp, be worn and damaged.
* Traumatic. This can be any type of injury or incident and can have a variety of effects across the whole spectrum of trauma. Falls, vehicle and sporting activities are the commonest causes of traumatic neck injury.
As with all areas of the body there are common patterns of problems in the neck region that relate to both the anatomical structures and the causes mentioned above.
Neck Pain With No Trauma or Injury – This will commonly be due to a postural or degenerative problem. You may well be able to work out the cause by analyzing when the onset of pain was. Awaking with it signifies an awkward sleeping position for the nape of the neck and shoulders. Other causes may be excessive sitting, studying or driving.
Neck Pain with Radiation of Symptoms into the Arm – This normally signifies that the root of at least one of the nerves passing out from the cervical spine is irritated or compressed. Compression can result from ‘pinching’ of the nerve by the facet joint or part of the disc.
If you have pain, pins and needles or numbness IN BOTH ARMS you should seek URGENT MEDICAL ATTENTION.This is because symptoms on both sides may indicate the pressure on the spinal cord itself which obviously has serious consequences if not rectified.
Neck Pain with Radiation into the Shoulder Blade – Pain that runs down along the inside of the shoulder blade indicates a problem with the lower part of the neck. This pain can be very troublesome and may also indicate that the THORACIC SPINE, the part of the spine between the neck and the back, is involved.
Pain in the Neck Due to Trauma – This type of neck pain can be due to injury or inflammation in any of the structures of the neck: THE DISCS; THE FACET JOINTS; THE VERTEBRAE; THE LIGAMENTS; THE MUSCLES OR THE NERVES. Many of these structures are easily damaged and can take many months to recover from injury. This is why so many ‘whiplash‘ injuries from road traffic accidents take so long to resolve. The forces can cause the structures to be COMPRESSED, STRETCHED, CRUSHED, TWISTED or ROTATED in any combination.
Treatment, Therapy, Solution, Remedy
The thing is is that the best cure for a neck condition is such a massive subject dealing with so many variables and discussion points. Things a clinic can provide are some good, fast information to help heal intense, severe, sharp discomfort from injury. At the very least quick medication such as a painkiller for pain management in cases of extreme injury can be given for relief and to soothe and ease things. What’s left will also be covered in greater detail in a downloadable e book that will be available soon. We’ll also discuss other conditions like sciatica, stiff neck n shoulder pain, sprain, rear pain in a future article.