Neck Pain

car-accident-picNeck pain is common in those who previously injured their neck from a car accident, fall or other trauma; even if it was decades ago.  Desk workers who crane over a computer are also prone to developing neck pain.

But neck pain can also arise gradually over years for no apparent cause.

The neck, or cervical spine is comprised of smaller vertebrae that have a wider range of motion, compared to the thoracic (torso) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine.   The trade-off is increased vulnerability to wear and tear.

Those smaller, more movable vertebrae are prone to shifting out of position when exposed to trauma like a rear-end car collision, sports injury or constant forward head posture, which typical desk/computer work promotes.  This alters the “balancing act” of the head on top of the neck and forces neck and upper shoulder muscles to work harder to balance it, leading to muscle soreness/ sensitivity.

In some cases the natural curvature of the cervical spine (called the lordotic curve), which acts as a shock-absorbing spring, straightens out or even reverses.  Over time, this strains the neck and upper shoulder muscles and places uneven pressure on the neck joints, promoting degenerative changes.

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The lordotic curve of the neck.

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Reversal of the lordotic curve.

Typically in common neck pain cases, the muscles in the back of the neck and upper shoulders are tight and sore, and the person has lost some range of motion.   Activities that require turning the neck to its maximum end range, such as backing out of a driveway,  become difficult.

The pain itself is generated from tight muscles, facet joints and sometimes discs.  The discs may be bulging, and there may be bone spurs pressing on nerves.

 NEXT:  Home Treatment for Neck Pain

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