Neck Pain and Problems

The neck—or cervical spine—is a coordinated network of nerves, bones, joints and muscles, directed by the brain and the spinal cord. It is designed for strength, stability and nerve communication.

Generally, there are several problems that cause pain in the neck. Additionally, irritation along the nerve pathways can cause pain in the shoulder, head, arm and hand. Irritation of the spinal cord can cause pain in the legs and other areas below the neck.

Causes and Symptoms

Poor posture can cause misalignment of the spine and result in neck pain. This happens when the neck is in an awkward position for an extended period.

Certain injuries such as sports and spinal cord injuries can result in neck pain.

A pinched nerve in the neck, also called radiculopathy, usually results from a herniated disk. If you have radiculopathy, you will likely have throbbing pain or numbness that radiates from your neck down into your arm.

Infections, TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) disorders and arthritis are some of the other reasons that cause neck pain.

The usual symptoms of neck pain are –

  • – pain and stiffness
  • – numbness and tingling
  • – clicking and grating noises
  • – muscle spasms
  • – dizziness

Although it’s rare, once in a while neck pain may be a warning sign of cancer, infection, autoimmune disease, or some kind of structural problem like spinal cord injury or a threat to an important blood vessel.

Acute pain at the base of the skull may well disappear without treatment.

Treatment

For short-term problems, manual treatment (chiropractic or physiotherapy) and pain-relieving medicines are recommended.

With longer-term pain (i.e., three months or more) these may be some of the treatment choices:

  • intensive muscle training
  • physiotherapy, including advice on posture and the use of a supportive pillow

These do not cover every possible treatment available for neck pain. Leading a healthy life will also have a positive impact on neck pain.