The neck is a complex structure comprising bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. It supports the head and allows us to move it in multiple directions. Neck pain affects people of all ages, and various factors can cause it. Neck pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that interferes with daily activities. Please keep reading to learn more about various neck disorders, their causes, and possible treatments.
Causes of Neck Disorders
A variety of factors can cause neck pain. One of the most common causes is poor posture. Poor posture puts unnecessary strain on the neck muscles and ligaments, which can cause pain and stiffness. Common things people do which cause neck pain include:
- Hunching over a computer or phone.
- Sleeping in a poor position.
- Carrying heavy bags or backpacks.
In addition to poor posture, another common cause of neck pain is injury or trauma. Whiplash is a common neck injury when the head is suddenly jerked forward or backward, causing the neck to stretch and compress quickly. Whiplash injury is common in car accidents, sports injuries, and falls. Other types of neck injuries include strains, sprains, and herniated discs.
Cervical spondylosis is typically an age-related condition that affects the cervical spine and is caused by wear and tear of the cervical spine bones, discs, and ligaments. As we age, the discs in the cervical spine lose their elasticity and become stiff, causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. The most successful treatment options for cervical spondylosis include physical therapy, pain medication, and surgery.
Cervical radiculopathy is a condition that occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated. This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and hands. Herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or bone spurs can cause cervical radiculopathy. To treat cervical radiculopathy, you should make an appointment with a physical therapist, which is typically all needed. In extreme cases, surgery may be required.
Cervical Herniated Disc
A cervical herniated disc happens when the soft, jelly-like material inside a disc in the neck leaks out through a tear in the disc’s outer layer – causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands. Treatment options for cervical herniated discs include pain management, steroid shots, physical therapy, and rarely surgery.
A neck strain is a common injury when the muscles and ligaments in the neck are stretched or torn. This can cause pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. Neck strains can be caused by poor posture, overuse, or trauma. Neck strain treatment is usually simply resting and adjusting posture, but in some cases, you may need over-the-counter medication for relief.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the spaces within the spine narrow, putting pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the arms and legs. Spinal stenosis can be caused by aging, Arthritis, or trauma. Treatment options for spinal stenosis include physical therapy, pain medication, and surgery.
Torticollis, also known as a wry neck, is a condition that causes the head to twist or tilt to one side. This can cause pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. Torticollis can be caused by congenital or acquired factors, such as injury or infection. For torticollis, the best treatment is typically working with a PT and using medicated balms to soothe the neck. Rarely will you need surgery or even pain medication
Procedures and Habits to Correct Neck Disorders
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment option that can help relieve neck pain and improve mobility. Chiropractors use hands-on techniques to manipulate the spine and joints to relieve pain and improve alignment. They may also use other modalities, such as heat or ice therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation, to help reduce pain and inflammation. Chiropractic care may be an effective treatment option for neck disorders such as cervical spondylosis, cervical radiculopathy, and neck strains.
Physical therapy is another non-invasive treatment option that can help relieve neck pain and improve mobility. Physical therapists use a variety of exercises and techniques to help strengthen the neck muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and inflammation. They may also use modalities such as heat or ice therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy may help treat neck disorders such as cervical spondylosis, cervical radiculopathy, and neck strains.
Medications may help relieve pain and inflammation associated with neck disorders. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may relieve mild to moderate pain. Prescription pain relievers may be used for more severe pain. Anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids may be used to help reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants quickly help relieve muscle spasms associated with neck disorders.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct neck disorders. Surgery may be recommended if conservative treatments have failed to relieve symptoms or if there is significant nerve or spinal cord compression. Neck surgery may be performed by a neurosurgeon, neck surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery. Surgical options for neck disorders may include discectomy, fusion, or laminectomy.
Neck pain is a common problem that various factors can cause. Poor posture, injury or trauma, and age-related wear and tear are common causes of neck pain. Various neck disorders can cause pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. The treatment options for neck disorders include chiropractic care, physical therapy, medications, and surgery. If you are experiencing neck pain or other symptoms associated with neck disorders, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.