6 Causes Of Neck Pain…
We all know what it feels like to have limited neck motion, as most of us have had neck pain at some point in time. It makes doing simple things like backing up a car, rolling over in bed, reading, and watching TV difficult-to-impossible. Let’s review some of the many causes of neck pain and what to do about it!
1) MUSCLES: There are MANY layers of muscles in the neck. There are very small, deep muscles that are important for stability of the spine. There are larger outside muscles that are long and strong, allowing us to sustain stresses like playing football, rugby, hockey, or falling on the ice. Long car drives/rides, computer work, studying/reading, or having a conversation with someone not sitting directly in front of you are just a few examples of how these muscles can experience overuse that can generate neck pain.
BAD POSTURE can also create OVERUSE of your neck muscles. If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice that the person in the picture is holding her head too far forward. This will fatigue and overuse her neck muscles… and create neck pain, neck tightness, limited range of motion… and other problems.
2) LIGAMENTS: These are tough, non-stretching tissues that hold bone to bone and can tear in trauma like whiplash, while playing sports, or in a fall. Because ligaments are important in keeping our joints stable, disrupted ligaments can lead to excessive “play” in a joint and can wear down the cartilage or the smooth, silky covering at the ends of bones. This can lead to premature osteoarthritis.
3) WORN JOINTS: As we age, our joints will degenerate. In the neck, there are two sets of small joints between six of the seven vertebrae called facet joints and uncinate processes that are vulnerable for osteoarthritis and are frequent pain generators.
4) DISCINJURY: The discs rest between the big vertebral bodies and act as shock absorbers. They are like jelly donuts, and when the disc’s tough outer layers tear, the jelly can leak out and this may or may not hurt, depending on the direction, the amount of the leaked out “jelly,” and if the “jelly” pinches pain-sensitive tissues. A “herniated disc” is the most common cause for a pinched nerve (see #5 below).
5) NERVECOMPRESSION: The nerves in the neck travel into the arms. Nerve compression or pinching of a nerve can result in numbness/tingling/burning pain in the arm and/or hand with or without weakness. Each nerve has a different role… and by mapping the numbness area and testing reflexes and muscle strength… it can help us identify the specific nerve that is injured.
6) DISEASES: Though significantly less common, neck pain can arise from certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis and/or cancer. When these are suspect, blood tests and special tests such as bone scan, CT/MRI, and/or biopsy can help to specifically identify the condition.
How can you tell if you have an underlying neck problem?
TRY THIS NOW: Bend you neck forward, backward, left, right… then turn your head to the right and to the left. Did you feel neck pain or tightness? Did you hear a popping sound? If you answered yes to either question, you most likely have a neck problem that needs to be corrected. If left uncorrected… over time… if not overnight… you’ll develop a more intense neck pain and/or decreased neck range of motion. This is what happens when people wake up and can’t move their neck due to severe neck pain and tightness.
If you felt neck pain or tightness… or heard a “popping sound” when you moved your neck, come in so that we can determine what’s causing your neck pain or neck tightness… and treat the specific problem area. We can also give you simple neck exercises that you can do at home. Don’t let your neck become ARTHRITIC.
Dr. Falkenroth is the clinic director at the Back Pain & Sciatica Clinic in Soquel. After 16 years in practice, Dr. Falkenroth has helped over 3,500 patients with low back pain, neck pain and sciatica.
Dr. Falkenroth belongs to an organization called Chiro-Trust.org. To watch what the Clinic Director of The Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Michael Roizen, M.D. has to say about Chiro-Trust.org, click on this link: Chiro-Trust.org and watch Dr. Roizen’s video in the top right corner.