How can I help my neck pain?
Pain in the neck or cervical pain relief
Neck pain is a noticeable awareness of discomfort that can arise from any of the structures of the neck, also known as the cervical spine or cervical region. These include muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves as well as the fascial tissue that covers the cervical spinal vertebrae and the discs that are found between vertebrae to cushion them.
When the neck is sore or painful there is usually difficulty moving it, especially to one side; this is due to the protective muscle spasm that the body uses to limit potentially harmful movement. This is described as having a stiff neck, or a crick in neck muscles.
When neck tissue becomes irritated and swollen from injury or prolonged and frequent abuse, it can compress the nerves of the neck resulting in neck pain from a pinched nerve in the neck that also causes numbness and tingling anywhere along the pathway of the pinched nerve.
Activities and events that have a negative impact on the ability of the neck to move include prolonged sitting, poor posture, repetitive head movement, automobile accidents, falls and blows to the upper body and head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear. Most episodes of neck pain are due to either a series of small repeated strains or a large sudden soft tissue (muscle, tendon, or ligament) injury found in the neck. One of the more classic ways of injuring the neck is with the massive force that occurs during an automobile accident (whiplash). There are many ways to injure the neck tissue, but they all tend to slowly improve over time with non-surgical care such as rest, ice, heat, massage, chiropractic manipulation, and medication.
A more serious injury is thought to occur if the neck pain continues more than a few weeks or worsens, or if it is accompanied by pain or numbness that extends into the arm or hands. It is at this point that a more extensive problem is suggested that might require professional treatment. It is important to know that neck pain can be causes by a variety of conditions such as cervical degenerative disc disease, cervical spinal misalignment, one or more cervical herniated discs, cervical stenosis, and cervical arthritis.
Perhaps the most common reason for neck pain is growing older. Usually associated with advancing age, common degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease have a huge impact on the spine and the location, frequency and amount of neck pain a person will feel.
- Osteoarthritis – this is the common form of wear and tear arthritis of the neck, caused by slow and gradually progressive deterioration of cartilage at the joints of the one or more spinal vertebrae. As this wear and tear arthritis advances the body attempts to limit further injury to the joints by limiting neck movement by forming bone spurs that reduce joint movement. There are many things a person can do to get relief from arthritis neck pain. Alternative Medicine methods can help you to reduce or eliminate the neck pain associated with osteoarthritis,
- Spinal stenosis – this is a narrowing of the size of opening for passage of the spinal cord through a vertebra, when spurs form near the spinal cord. As spinal stenosis advances the spinal cord passageway in the vertebrae gets progressively narrower, causing compression and trapping of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally, as well as far reaching complaints when the spinal cord is compressed.
- Degenerative disc disease – this is the result of repeated abuse and injury to the spinal disc, eventually causing reduction of elasticity and height of the affected discs. As the degenerative changes continue over time, the affected disc can bulge or herniate, resulting in tingling, numbness, and pain that extend into the arm as far as the fingertips.
Any of these structural changes (osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, bone spurs) can cause compression or pinching of the nerves in the neck. Until measures are taken to limit, control and minimize the effects of these structural changes the neck pain will continue and probably increase over time. Alternative Medicine can be used with great success. Learn how to reduce the painful consequences of a pinched nerve in neck causing neck pain.
The neck begins at the base of the skull and contains seven rather small spinal bones attached to an intricate array of muscles, tendons and ligaments. All these supports hold the neck upright and keep the skull balanced on top of the cervical spine. Amazingly, the cervical spine, located in the back half of the neck, supports the full weight of the head which on average is about 12 pounds.
The reason that neck pain is so common is that the design of the neck attempts to keep it not only flexible but also strong. However, since the neck design is most successful at being flexible, it does not have sufficient strength to protect and support all the tissues that make up the neck. Because the cervical spine can flex and rotate your head in all directions, this extreme flexibility makes the neck susceptible to overuse, injury and pain.
Risk factors for neck pain include injury while participating in contact sports, poor neck posture, sleeping on too many pillows or sleeping face down, prolonged hyperflexion or hyperextension of the neck, motor vehicle accidents, wearing a heavy hard hat at work, etc. Prevention of neck pain as it relates to these factors should include neck strengthening and stretching exercises and postural awareness.