Your neck is part of a long flexible column, known as the spinal column or backbone.
Your spinal column extends through most of your body, and the region that makes up your neck is called the cervical spine.
The cervical spine consists of seven bones that are separated from one another by intervertebral discs.
The discs allow the spine to move freely and act as shock absorbers during activity.
Due to the complexity of the cervical spine, the odds are pretty high that it'll act up at some point during your life and cause neck pain.
Your neck pain might be a little soreness, or it could be a more intense pain making it tough to do simple things like turn your head.
There are many common causes of neck pain.
Fortunately, neck pain rarely leads to more serious problems, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable.
In the article below, we'll talk about the most common reasons why you could be experiencing neck pain.
Table Of Contents
- You Have An Underlying Health Condition
- You're Getting Older
- Strained Muscle or Tendon
- Pinched Nerve
- Check In With Your Chiropractor
You Have An Underlying Health Condition
We'll start with the least likely scenario.
It's much more likely that your neck pain is the result of something else, but conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, and cancer can cause neck discomfort.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joint, potentially including the joints in your neck, leading to painful swelling and gradual damage to your bones and joints.
Meningitis is an inflammatory condition of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
A stiff, potentially painful neck is often a sign of meningitis.
Cancer can also hurt your neck in a few different ways depending on the type of cancer you have.
If you have cancer that destroys bone tissue in your neck, that will obviously cause pain, just as having a tumor that compresses a nerve will.
Whiplash is a neck injury due to a forceful, fast, back-and-forth movement of your neck.
It often happens in car accidents, but they can also be due to a sports accident, physical abuse, or other trauma.
When you get whiplash, the various tissues of your neck get injured, causing symptoms like stiffness, headaches starting at the base of your skull, fatigue, dizziness, blurry vision, and problems concentrating.
Some people will only need extra rest to treat their whiplash.
Others find success using heat and cold therapy, over-the-counter pain medications, and doing gentle stretches to exercise the neck.
Some patients will need more intensive treatment like muscle relaxants, numbing injections, physical therapy, or using a foam collar to help stabilize their neck.
This is why it's crucial to see a doctor if you have neck pain after an injury instead of trying to self-diagnose and treat the symptoms yourself.
You're Getting Older
Over time the joints in your body, including those in the neck, wear down.
This is due to a condition called osteoarthritis, which causes the degeneration of cartilage.
Healthy cartilage works by absorbing shock as you move, so when you start losing cartilage, problems will arise when your bones rub together.
You can form bone spurs that might cause compression or affect your ability to move your neck properly.
There's no way to reverse osteoarthritis, but you can usually manage the symptoms with lifestyle changes, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and pain medications.
If those treatments don't provide any relief, your doctor might recommend cortisone injections or surgery.
Strained Muscle Or Tendon
A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon.
This can happen in your neck for a variety of reasons, including spending too much time hunched over your computer or sleeping with your neck at an odd angle.
It can also be due to a simple movement like craning your neck under the sofa to get the dust bunnies.
Many people think strains only occur after intense physical activity, but they typically happen after normal, insignificant activities.
Don't be embarrassed if you strain your neck while reading in bed or doing the dishes. It happens to the best of us.
Treatment for a strain involves resting your neck as best as you can, or ice the area every 15 to 20 minutes every two or three hours until the pain stops.
That's usually all it takes, and you'll feel better within days or weeks.
Sometimes you can get a herniated disc, which is when some of the soft stuff of your discs pushes through a tear in the exterior.
The disc itself will bulge past its normal limits and can compress nerves leaving the spine.
Bone spurs, which are tough projections that can develop along the edges of your bones, can also do this.
When you have a pinched nerve in your neck, you may experience localized pain, numbness, and tingling that potentially extend into your shoulder and arm on one side.
In most cases, symptoms of nerve compression will get better in a few days or weeks with the help of rest and over-the-counter pain medications.
Chiropractic care is also helpful in minimizing pain.
If Your Pain Isn't Going Away, Check In With Your Chiropractor
If your neck pain lasts longer than a week, you should see your chiropractor to be sure it's not due to an underlying medical condition.
Once an underlying medical condition is ruled out, your chiropractor will design a treatment plan for you that will treat the pain and keep it from coming back.
A physical examination will be performed, and if it's your first time seeing the chiropractor, they will get your full medical history.
If you're experiencing neck pain and you don't have a chiropractor, contact the professionals at the Advanced Injury Care Clinic so they can get you fixed up today.
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