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What are Causes Of Neck Pain?
Understanding the common causes of neck pain can help you avoid putting undue strain on your neck muscles, nerves, and vertebrae. Neck pain can result from prolonged posture during everyday activities or from more severe trauma that is experienced during an accident or disorder.
Causes Of Neck Pain
The most common causes of neck pain stem from having poor posture during everyday activities, such as watching TV, working on the computer, reading, or bending over a desk for hours. If you sleep in an uncomfortable position or twist and turn the neck in a jarring movement during exercise, for example, you may also cause neck pain. These types of movements put strain or tension on the neck muscles, causing them to feel sore or tense.
More serious traumas, such as accidents, falls, or severe injuries, can cause vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injury, or in more severe cases, paralysis. You may also injure your neck in such a way that your neck’s nerve roots become pinched and cause severe pain.
Other causes of neck pain may include any of the following:
Fibromyalgia – A chronic condition that causes widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibromyalgia may also cause fatigue and multiple tender points in your body where slight pressure causes pain.
Cervical Arthritis – Also known as spondylosis, this osteoarthritic condition affects the upper spine. Cervical arthritis occurs when cartilage in the joints begins to wear away as the result of an accident or the natural aging process. As the space between the vertebrae continue to narrow, the spine’s nerves become compressed and causing sharp pain that may radiate to the arms.
Ruptured Disk – Also known as herniated cervical disk, this condition occurs when a spinal disk in your neck has become damaged and ruptured. When this occurs, the ruptured disk bulges and puts pressure on, or pinches, on nearby spinal nerve root, causing pain in your neck, shoulders, and arms.
Spinal Fractures – A fractured vertebrae can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage spinal nerves or the spinal cord in the cervical spine. Spinal fractures are most commonly the result of car accidents, falls, or sports-related injuries. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or paralysis in your arms or legs.
Spinal Stenosis – Spinal stenosis is a medical condition that occurs when the space between the vertebrae narrows, causing nerve pinching and pain. Stenosis can occur in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions, causing pain in the neck, low back, buttocks, legs, thighs, or feet.
Spinal Infection – Although fairly rare, spinal infections, also known as osteomyelitis, diskitis, or abscess, may occur following surgery or spontaneously in patients who have certain risk factors, such as poor nutrition, immune suppression, HIV infection, cancer, diabetes or obesity.
Spinal Tumor – Spinal tumors can occur inside the spinal cord, in the membranes covering the spinal cord, between the outer membranes and vertebrae, or may extend from other locations. As the tumor grows, it may affect the blood vessels, vertebrae, nerve roots, or spinal cord cells.
Neck Pain Symptoms
The cervical spine is made up of muscles, nerves, and seven vertebrae between the head and chest, with each vertebrae being cushioned by a circular cartilage disc, known as the spinal disc, which serves to absorb shock the spine experiences with regular movement.
When your neck pain is related to a sore neck muscle, you may experience tension or pain when you move your neck to one side – a condition often referred to as stiff neck. More severe neck pain may be related to a pinched nerve from a herniated disk, for example, which involves feeling numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hands, or fingers.
Chiropractic Treatment For Neck Pain
If you are experiencing neck pain, consult with a chiropractor in your area who will examine your spine and evaluate your medical history to help determine your neck pain causes.
Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in treating conditions and disorders related to the spine using non-surgical, drug-free treatments. A common chiropractic treatment used to treat neck pain involves spinal manipulation of the neck. Spinal manipulation is a hands-on approach to treating the affected area of the spine and aiding the spine in returning to its optimal function. By manipulating, or stretching the affected area of the spine, the chiropractor is able to release any restrictions in the spine that are causing neck pain.
A neck adjustment is used to treat neck pain and some types of headaches. Also known as cervical manipulation, neck adjustments aim to improve joint mobility and range of motion in the neck to reduce muscle spasms. Ultimately, after several treatments, a patient should be relieved of pressure and tension experienced in the neck.
When you consult with a chiropractor, he/she will do a total spinal evaluation to look at the cervical spine, thoracic spine (mid-back), and lumbar spine (lower back). During the consultation, your chiropractor may ask the following questions:
- Is your neck pain in the front, back, or side of your neck?
- Do you experience pain in both sides of your neck equally?
- When did you first notice the pain?
- Is your neck pain constantly present, or does it wax and wane?
- Are you able to bend your chin to your chest?
- Which movements make your neck feel worse? Which make your neck feel better?
- Is your neck weak or stiff?
- Do you notice any numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or hands?
- Are there any swollen glands or lumps in your neck?
To help determine the causes of neck pain, consult with a chiropractor in your area. After evaluating your spine and reviewing your medical history, your chiropractor will determine if chiropractic treatment can help alleviate your neck pain.