Chiropractic > Neck Pain
During our lives, many of us will have neck pain, and most of us won't know exactly what caused it. In fact, neck pain can start from a whole range of causes. Maybe you slept funny and woke up with a crick that won't go away. You might've been rear-ended in your car and now you have whiplash. Perhaps you twisted it wrong one day in one of those high-intensity aerobic classes.
Even though most of us will experience neck pain, we won't all feel it in the same way. Sometimes, it's just on one side of your neck; sometimes, pain shoots down your arms. A problem in your neck may even cause terrible headaches or dizziness. Symptoms may be gone in a few days, or you may have long-term pain that limits what you can do every day.
No matter what's causing your neck pain, it hurts, and you're probably very eager to get rid of it. However, as you may guess since there are so many causes and symptoms of neck pain, there are many ways to treat it. You can use over-the-counter pain medication. Acupuncture is an option, as is massage. Most people with neck pain don't need surgery, but it may be best for you and your pain.
So as you can tell, neck pain isn't quite as simple as "just" a pain in the neck, but by learning more about it, you'll be better able to deal with it.
Causes of neck pain
You need to know what's causing your neck pain because that impacts your treatment options. As you probably know, there are a lot of ways to experience neck pain. It may be mild or severe, numbing or burning, in your neck or in your hand. There's a variety of symptoms because there's a variety of causes of neck pain. A few common causes are:
- Daily Life: Just getting through every day takes its toll on your body — you most likely know that from first-hand experience. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. You can sleep wrong and wake up with a crick in your neck. You can sit too long at your desk, staring at your computer, and give yourself a stiff neck.
Also, the way you're living could be causing your neck pain. Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt the spine's balance, causing your neck to bend uncomfortably to compensate.
Even healthy, normal activities can cause neck sprains and strains, which can lead to pain. Gardening, tennis, a friendly game of touch football, and even golf can all potentially hurt your neck.
- Growing Older: Age-related disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the cervical spine.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can cause the intervertebral discs to become less hydrated, and they lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing abilities. And over time, you may develop a bulging disc or a herniated disc. With both bulging and herniated discs, the disc material can press on nerve roots, causing neck pain that may run into the arm, tingling, and/or numbness.
Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder that causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. Without the cartilage, your bones rub together. The body reacts by forming bone spurs (osteophytes), a self-protection step. However, the bone spurs can press on your nerves, causing neck pain.
Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways between the vertebrae to narrow, which can compresses and trap the spinal cord and/or spinal nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain and numbness when these nerves are unable to function normally.
- Injury and Accidents: That's right—whiplash. A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting "rebound" of the head or neck in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden "whipping" motion causes injury to the surrounding and supporting tissues of your neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue that results in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also involve injury to the intervertebral discs, joints, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash. If you've had a head injury, more than likely, your neck has been affected, too, even if you don't feel it right away. It's wise to seek medical attention immediately.
- Other Disorders: Prolonged pain and/or decreased function of your brain, spinal cord, muscles, or nerves may be an indication of something more serious. Seek medical attention immediately because occasionally, these symptoms may be the result of a spinal infection, spinal cord compression, spinal tumor, fracture, or another disorder.
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