Neck Pain

Neck Pain

The first 7 vertebral bones on the spinal column form the cervical spine and are in the neck region. The neck bears the weight of the head, allows a significant amount of movement, and is also less protected than other parts of the spine. All these factors make the neck more susceptible to injury or other painful disorders. Ordinary neck pain may happen from muscle strain or tension in everyday activities including poor posture, prolonged use of a computer and sleeping in an uncomfortable position.

Surgical treatment by anterior cervical discectomy with spinal fusion is typically recommended only after non-surgical treatment technique fail to relieve the pain. An anterior cervical discectomy is a surgical process performed to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the cervical (neck) spine. Spinal fusion may be performed to provide stability to the spine.

Causes

The most common reason for neck pain is an injury to the soft tissues or prolonged wear and tear. Traumatic accidents or falls and contact sports can reason severe neck injuries causing pain in the neck. Neck pain can also come from infections, tumors or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.  Common situation producing neck pain includes:

Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joints, tissues, and organs. The situation occurs most often in the upper neck area causing inflammation of the lining (or synovium) of joints resulting in neck pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function.

Cervical disc herniation: Disc herniation is the bulging or rupture of the soft fibrous tissue, discs, cushioning the vertebrae. Cervical disc herniation refers to herniation of discs in the cervical spine region or neck region. Because of this, the soft central portion called nucleus pulpous bulges out through the tear in the capsule. The situation can be the reason by the normal aging or by traumatic injury to the spine. The condition results in painful, burning, tingling or numbing sensations in the neck.

Cervical Spondylosis: Cervical spondylosis refers to abnormal degeneration of the cartilage and bones in the neck region.  The condition results in neck pain radiating to arms or shoulder and neck stiffness that gets worse over time.

Cervical Stenosis: Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves. The situation causes neck pain radiating to arms and hands.

Degenerative disc disease: Degenerative disc disease refers to the gradual deterioration of the disc between the vertebrae and is caused due to aging. As people age, intervertebral discs lose their suppleness, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics, resulting in neck pain.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of neck pain is made with physical examination and other imaging methods including electromyography (EMG), X-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, blood tests, and bone density assessment.

Treatments

Treatment options contain rest, ice application, elevation of the injured area, using a soft neck collar and neck immobilization using a splint, cast, or sling. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation. Certain stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended to strengthen the neck muscles.

Surgical treatment by anterior cervical discectomy with spinal fusion is typically recommended only after non-surgical treatment technique fail to relieve the pain. An anterior cervical discectomy is a surgical process performed to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the cervical (neck) spine. Spinal fusion may be performed to provide stability to the spine.

The following steps may help you prevent or improve your neck pain:

  • If you use the telephone a lot, use a headset
  • Use a pillow that keeps your neck straight
  • Wear seat belts and use bike helmets to reduce injuries
  • Practice relaxation exercises to stop undesirable stress and tension to the neck muscles
  • Perform stretching exercises for your neck before and after exercise
  • Keep good posture if you work at a computer and adjust the monitor at your eye level. Stretch your neck frequently.