Your neck, which is also referred to as the cervical spine, consists of vertebrae that progress from your upper torso to the lowest portion of your skull. These vertebrae are joined by your muscles, and ligaments in supplying a foundation for your spine, while also supplying you with the ability to remain mobile.
The literal weight of this responsibility becomes even more impressive when you consider that the average human head weighs between 10 and 11 pounds. This requires your neck to maintain flexibility as it provides continual support.
Your bones within the cervical spine are also protected by six cervical discs, which also assist in the process of facilitating your head movements. But if you are confronted with an issue in your ligaments, muscles or nerves that are contained within your cervical spine, then pain could emerge in your neck. This is also true if a problem develops that impacts the bones of your spine.
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
If you become absorbed in various activities while you are on your computer or your cellular phone, that can allow you to complete a number of tasks. However, it can also result in you spending a considerable amount of time with your head and neck tilted downward. This will create stress on your neck, which can lead to painful muscle strain. This can also occur due to repetitive use of the neck muscles, attempting to lift a heavy item, or if you encounter a fall.
In some cases, neck pain can also emerge due to an injury. A common scenario in which this occurs involves a sudden but distinct impact that forces your head to progress backward and forward. This can lead to a condition that is referred to as whiplash, which often takes place during an automobile collision.
Pain and stiffness can also take place as the aging process leads to the gradual decline of your neck joints. This is due to the cumulative effect of use as the years advance. Cervical spondylosis is a condition that involves the gradual reduction of fluid that is located in the discs of your neck. It has been stated that over 85 percent of individuals who are at least 60 years of age are impacted by this condition.
Discomfort can also develop in your neck if you have rheumatoid arthritis. This condition involves inflammation that affects the lining that is contained in your joints. This will result in pain that is accompanied by swelling. Some individuals also experience fatigue and a reduction in their appetite. Osteoarthritis also results from inflammation, and it is usually triggered by degeneration of the joint through the aging process. However, it can also emerge due to an injury.
Stress is the source of numerous health problems, and this includes literally causing you to have pain the neck. This develops if you are tense, which causes your neck muscles to become excessively tight.
Reducing The Risk Of Experiencing Neck Pain
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to diminish the chances of pain developing in your neck. This includes maintaining correct posture whenever you sitting or standing, which involves keeping your ears in a straight line with your shoulders. It is also important to retain a straight line from your hips to your shoulders.
Any computer monitors that you use while sitting at your desk, your chair, or your computer should remain at eye level. If you are utilizing your computer for an extended period of time, then you should also provide yourself with repeated breaks. It will be essential to move and stretch your neck and shoulders when these breaks occur.
When you are walking with your phone, you should avoid any temptation to tuck the device between your shoulder and your ear. You should also abstain from carrying a heavy item that forces you to place a strap over your shoulder.
When your daily activities have ended, you should also position your head and neck in alignment with the remainder of your body when you sleep. Placing a small pillow under your neck can also be beneficial. It should be noted that smoking also increases the risk of developing neck pain.
If you are already contending with discomfort in your neck, it is possible that the pain will subside within several days if it has occurred due to a minor issue such as muscle strain. You can also attempt to relieve any discomfort through the use of ice, or heat. Stretching your neck muscles can also be beneficial, as can a basic massage that reduces your pain.
When You Should Visit A Physician
If you are experiencing serious discomfort in your neck following a noteworthy impact such as a fall, or an automobile accident, then it is critical that you should seek immediate medical attention. You should also receive prompt assistance for any pain that advances down your legs or arms.
If you are contending with pain that remains constant or is severe, then you should visit a physician. This is also the case if you are dealing with any numbness, tingling, weakness or headaches.
What Your Doctor Will Do
Your physician will have a sequence of questions that will be designed to establish the specifics of your condition, along with the most effective form of treatment for your issue. He or she could also decide that imaging testing such as x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans should be used toward identifying the source of your discomfort.
After a final diagnosis has been determined, your physician will recommend a treatment plan that could include medication to relax your muscles. You might also become involved with physical therapy, or the use of a neck collar.
At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help
If you are experiencing any pain in your neck, or have any questions about this critical component in your anatomy, we encourage you to contact us at Orthopedic Associates. With eight board-certified physicians and two board-eligible physicians in orthopedic specialties, Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical therapy. state-of-the-art-technology, and an on-site surgical center.
Our team also contains specialists for each condition. This includes our neck and spine doctors. We encourage you to consult one of these physicians if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Hard, knotted muscles in your neck or shoulders
- Decreased range of motion.
- Tightness in the general neck-and-shoulder area
- Stiffness as you go to look over your left or right shoulders
- Headaches originating from the base of your skull and continuing to the front of your forehead.
Our specialists also provide on-call availability, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can also treat these conditions of the neck:
- Anatomy of the Spine
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Compression Fracture of the Spine
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Joint Syndrome
- Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
- Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
- Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
- Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
- Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
- Spinal Epidural Abscess
- Spinal Infection
- Spinal Stenosis
- Where Lower Back Pain Begins
- Where Neck Pain Begins