The main function of the neck is to hold up the weight of the head (which is about 5 kilograms) and allow the head to move sideways from left to right and likewise up and down. The neck also serves as a conduit for the spinal cord since it carries blood vessels to and from the head and contains passage ways for air and food.
Since the neck is a complex interlocking structure of joints, bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments, it is vulnerable to injury and disorders that can cause us pain and discomfort. For most of us, neck pain is a temporary condition that is often tolerable and disappears with time but in some cases neck pains need medical diagnosis and treatment.
Most common causes of neck pain are injury or prolonged wear and tear of soft tissues. One common cause of neck pain which is very typical to people ages 40 and older is the degeneration of the cervical disc.
The cervical disc acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck and it contains a gelatin like tissue in the center. When this degenerates, the space between the vertebrae narrows this will cause pain in the neck.
The neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is exposed to injury. Vehicle accidents, contact sports and falls are some of the causes of neck injury. Severe neck injuries with dislocation or fracture of the neck can damage the spinal resulting to paralysis.
The following are symptoms of neck pains that should not be disregarded.
Headaches . It is usually a dull aching type of headache and not the sharp pain. Headaches are common in connection to neck problems. Very often, headaches are felt at the back of the head. But there are cases that the pain may radiate to the sides and even the front head.
Nerve Pain. Neck pain can branch down the arms and legs. It is a feeling of sensation of needles and pins or tingling in the arms which are often accompanied by burning, weakness or numbness. The pain becomes worse during the night.
Muscle ache. The muscles in the neck may have hard knots that are tender to touch. Usually the pain is felt up the middle of the neck or on one side only.
Stiffness. Neck muscles are tight that if you spend too much time in one position and tend to become even tighter. Pain and difficulty in neck movement is the result of stiff neck.
Muscle spasm. A sudden, powerful, involuntary contraction of muscles is the cause of spasm. You can feel pain, stiff and knotted. You may also not able to move your neck.
Unable to move in normal range. This is when you feel limited in how far you can lower your head to your chest or you can’t turn your head from left or right and can’t tilt your head back.
Giving proper care and treatment that concerns our neck is vital to avoid further problems. It is also vital to consult medical professionals that can prescribed needed medications and remedies. To get rid of neck pain you can ask assistance from Tricity Pain Associates.
Here are ten articles about the long-term prognosis of various soft-tissue injuries published on PubMed, a government website which only publishes peer-reviewed articles from authoritative sources:
- Long-term prognosis of soft-tissue injuries of the neck published in J Bone Joint Surg Br.
- Prognostic factors in soft tissue injuries of the cervical spine published in Injury
- Evaluation of long-term prognosis in patients with whiplash syndrome published in Med. Pregl.
- The rate of recovery following whiplash injury published in Eur. Spine J.
- Findings and outcome in whiplash-type neck distortions published in Spine.
- Long-term outcome after whiplash injury. A 2-year follow-up considering features of injury mechanism and somatic, radiologic, and psychosocial findings published in Medicine.
- The effect of accident mechanisms and initial findings on the long-term course of whiplash injury published in J. Neurol.
- Soft-tissue injuries of the cervical spine. 15-year follow-up published in J Bone Joint Surg Br.
- ‘Whiplash injuries’ of the neck: a retrospective study by Injury.
- A descriptive analysis of disorders in patients 17 years following motor vehicle accidents published in Eur Spine J.
Anyone that has ever had the unpleasant experience of having a muscle spasm knows how painful it is and a neck muscle spasm is no different. A neck muscle spasm is an involuntary tight muscle contraction that causes a person to experience severe neck pain. There are many causes and treatments for severe neck pain.
Severe neck pain is often the result of strained neck muscles caused by things such as intense exercises, degenerative changes from repetitive movements and trauma. The cervical spine, unlike the rest of your spine, only has a small amount of ligaments and muscles for protection. Conditions that have an adverse affect on the muscles and tendons often cause severe neck pain. If the joints narrow between the neck bones, caused by immune system attack, prolonged wear and tear or trauma, then the vertebrae in the neck grind together, creating stress and pressure on localized tendons, muscles, and nerves. This often causes severe neck pain and other symptoms such as arm, shoulder, and hand pain.
Some of several symptoms of severe neck pain include rupture of a disk or muscular strain from trauma. Many neck pain symptoms, unlike severe neck pain, develop slowly. Some people experience neck tenderness or stiffness in the morning or after watching television, reading, or working on their computer. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the body’s immune system or natural defenses to attack a person’s joints and bones. Over time, the rheumatoid arthritis destroys body and neck joints causing stiffness and severe pain to the neck and other parts of the body. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease commonly affecting people over forty, can involve not only the neck joint but also other body joints. Neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease can cause stiffness or weakness of the neck muscles resulting in strain on the necks structures and muscles, resulting in severe neck pain.
Treatment for severe neck pain or chronic neck pain can vary depending upon the case. Some people find acupressure and acupuncture helps the muscles relax, which reduces their neck pain. For severe neck pain, doctors sometimes recommend strong anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and painkillers. Anti-inflammatory drugs taken orally or by injection are usually only recommended in severe neck pain cases because serious side effects, such as infections, bone thinning, and internal bleeding can occur. Some doctors may recommend an over-the-counter drug that has few side effects but often reduce stiffness and discomfort for people suffering from mild neck pain. Never take any medication or start a neck exercise program without talking to your doctor first.
Many people today live a very complex but inactive lifestyle due in part to long working hours, lack of outdoor activity, and repetitive, tedious occupations. This can lead to numerous health problems including neck and upper back pain. Factory workers that do repetitive reaching or heavy lifting, computer operators that sit bent over their computers for extended lengths of time or tollbooth operators that stand and lean, handing out tickets and collecting money all day, along with people in thousands of other jobs are prime candidates for neck and upper back pain. Stay at home people that carry a baby on their hip for hours, hunching over playing video games, sitting in bed reading, playing golf, or just lazing around continuously can also result in neck and upper back pain. The neck, shoulders, and upper back are common areas affected by too much emotional and mental stress. In other words, putting excess strain on your neck and back, practicing poor posture, stress, or not using your upper back and neck muscles enough can all lead to neck and upper back pain.
The good news is that there are numerous ways to help and prevent neck and upper back pain. Developing sensible work habits, reducing stress, practicing healthy posture, finding good physical balance, and living a healthy lifestyle helps relieve and prevent neck and upper back pain. Some of the traditional treatment methods used to reduce pain is chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, massage, and exercise, including several types of stretching exercises.
People have practiced yoga all over the world for centuries to promote mental and physical well being. Although it took a while, yoga has become very popular in the United States today, although westerners do not practice the spiritual components of yoga as often. It is the breathing exercises and physical poses that more and more Americans are turning to and usually finding relief from neck and upper back pain. The results from using yoga regularly to relieve physical pain, reduce stress, increase strength, and improve flexibility is amazing. Some yoga poses may require modification depending upon your back pain.
Some causes of neck and upper back pain could be more serious than poor posture, muscle tension, and strain, so if it is a recurring or persistent pain, make an appointment with your physician. The condition and reasons for neck and upper back pain problems vary and the cause usually determines the treatment. You should always talk to your doctor before starting any type of yoga or exercise routine if you have any known health problems.
Upper back pain can strike any one of us at any time. Although it can be caused by a few different things such as ligament problems, in most cases, it’s caused by a muscle being pulled, stretched or strained. Possible causes of upper back pain may be overuse of certain muscles, lack of strength, or trauma as one would receive in a car or sports accident. Upper back pain treatment will usually revolve around helping the muscles once again relaxed. Upper back pain will usually show up as a pain in or near the shoulder blade as well as movement restrictions.
Upper back pain is also referred as thoracic pain or middle back pain. It is called ‘thoracic’ because it’s thoracic spine, which is located in that area. Upper back pain is also felt between the lumbar spine and the bottom of the neck. Massage is often used as an upper back pain treatment and will sometimes give relief quickly. However, if the problem is not in the muscles, medical treatment should be given to determine if there is a more serious problem.
For muscular problems in the upper back, exercise and light physical therapy often are helpful as upper back pain treatment. At the onset of the problem, ice is stilled the recommended upper back pain treatment to avoid swelling and inflammation. Many people choose to see a chiropractor for treatments. Although there are still many that don’t believe in chiropractic manipulation, many people have been helped by their services. Pain medications are often used as part of the upper back pain treatment, although they are never used by themselves. They are recommended to be taken along with physical therapy or exercise.
If there is one specific area or spot, that is tender and painful, trigger point injections or massages are also a method of upper back pain treatment. Many doctors like this method because the medication is going to just the painful area and not throughout the entire body.
Occasionally, upper back pain is caused by the joints connecting the ribs and the vertebrae. In this case, the upper back pain treatment is chiropractic treatments, physical therapy and pain medications. A lot of this will depend on the severity of the pain.
Other causes of upper back pain may be herniated spinal disc, degenerative disc or fractured vertebrae. Fractured vertebra is quite common in women over the age of 50 due to osteoporosis. In these cases, medical treatment will be necessary to get prompt relief before further damage takes place.
Posture or improving it is not something most people notice or even think about until upper back pain causes them to slow down and realize that their bad posture is causing the problem. Everyone has heard or been told that slouching results in a round back or that they should stand up straight because it improves their appearance but it often takes pain and discomfort that will not go away to make a person take notice. Upper back pain causes you to realize that your poor posture is having a negative effect on your health and it is time to do something to improve it and become pain free again.
You might have some doubt as to whether your posture and upper back pain are related or that you are experiencing pain from your postural muscles. Many people say that their upper back pain causes a burning sensation that only disappears if they stop whatever they are doing and rest for a while. If your pain and posture are related, you usually feel much better after you have had a chance to lie down and rest because there is no pressure or strain on your upper back. If you sit in bed and read or watch television curled up on the sofa, your pain will usually continue because your posture is still aggravating your upper back muscles.
Upper back pain causes people to suffer and give up many of the activities they enjoy such as golfing, jogging, going to the show or playing with their puppy. If your upper back pain causes you to change the way you are living, and poor posture is the reason, it is time to do something about it. Just being aware of your posture when you are lying down, standing or sitting and then adjusting your posture slightly so your body stays aligned can make a huge difference in helping relieve your pain. Throw out any old or broken down pillows and purchase a pillow that supports your neck and back properly, and make sure your mattress is firm and provides good support.
Other upper back pain causes include sitting in one position for too long. If possible, get up and move around at least once every hour, to stretch your muscles. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, a monitor that sits too high or low or a chair that does not give you the support you require will cause back pain. Along with making changes to improve your posture, there are posture specific exercises to help alleviate upper back pain.