Neck pain represents a common reason people visit their doctor

Do you suffer from neck pain? is your neck stiff and limited in range of motion? Do you experience persistent headaches or pain behind the eyes? Do you experience pain in the upper back or tingling sensations in the arm and hand?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing some form of condition related to your cervical spine or neck. Here’s an article by orthopaedic clinical specialist, Malton Schexneider, PT, MMSc that answers some of the most frequently asked questions about neck pain.

What Causes Neck Pain and How Can I Treat It?

There are many causes of neck pain many of which overlap one another. Below is a brief overview of some of the most common causes of neck pain.

Most neck problems are the result of degenerative changes in the joints of the neck that happen over the course of years. Over time these degenerative changes, known as spondylosis, will result in pain. An important note is that most problems associated with spondylosis are a normal part of aging.

Degenerative Disc Disease
The normal aging process also involves changes within the intervertebral discs. Repeated stresses and strains weaken the connective tissues that make up a disc. Over time, the disc loses its ability to absorb shock resulting in an even greater toll on the disc and other structures of the neck.

As disc degeneration progresses, the space between the vertebrae becomes smaller. This compresses the spinal joints, eventually resulting in the development of arthritis in the spinal joints.

These degenerative changes in the disc cause the spinal segment to become loose and unstable resulting in even greater wear and tear and eventually leading to disc herniation and protrusion. A herniated disc in the neck is often associated with a pinched nerve and subsequent upper extremity pain and weakness.

Further disc degeneration results in the development of bone spurs, which is the spine’s attempt to stabilize itself. These bone spurs can further irritate the nerves exiting the neck and causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the neck, arms, and hands.

Muscle Strain and Whiplash
People with minor neck pain or stiffness are often told they have a muscle strain when, in fact, there is very little muscle involvement other than protective muscle guarding or spasm which is the body’s way of protecting itself from further injury.

A true muscle strain is a condition where the muscle has been involuntarily overstretched. A classic example of this type of muscle strain is the whiplash syndrome. Whiplash was first described in 1923 and was defined as an acceleration-deceleration injury to the neck. Recent definition of whiplash, however, includes all types of neck injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents. Whiplash is graded on a 0 – IV scale with a Grade 0 representing no pain and no physical signs and a Grade IV representing pain complaints along with fracture and/or dislocation.(Read full article here)

If you found this article helpful and have some additional questions about neck pain, leave your question in the comment section below. If we get enough interest, we’ll make available our free Exercises To Treat Neck Pain booklet.

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