Neck Pain: Causes and treatments of pain in the neck
The neck belongs to the cervical spine. The cervical spine is a complex structure that supports the head. It consists of small vertebrae, discs, joints, nerve roots, muscles and ligaments. This makes the neck very sensitive to injury and pain. Everyone has ever had to deal with neck pain, although neck pain occurs more often in women than in men. Most causes of a painful neck are innocent and disappear within minutes to days. But some conditions as well as environmental factors cause constant or prolonged pain in the neck, sometimes in combination with other symptoms. Various self-care tips as well as medical treatments are available for pain complaints in the neck.
Neck pain is caused by inflammation or irritation of the bones, joints, ligaments, discs, muscles and nerves. This is done by both disorders and environmental factors.
Disorders and pain complaints in the neck
Some disorders cause pain in the neck.
A protrusion of a part of an artery is a sign of an aneurysm . When this happens in the brain, there is a 'cerebral aneurysm'. When this aneurysm ruptures, rapidly occurring headaches, neck pain and facial pain occur with pain shoots .
In a disc herniation of the neck, also known as a 'neck hernia', a bulge (hernia) of the intervertebral disc (discus) occurs, causing pressure on a large nerve from the spinal cord. This pressure creates a local inflammation of the nerve, which entails pain. This type of nerve pain is known as 'neuropathic pain'. Radiant pain to the arm, and a numb and / or irritating sensation in the arm, occurs here ( paraesthesia ).
In the rare blood clotting disorder haemophilia , clotting factors are lacking, causing internal and external haemorrhages. When an internal brain haemorrhage is present, this results in, among other things, double vision ( diplopia ), an acute abdomen and neck pain. A blood transfusion with the necessary coagulation factors resolves this condition, which usually has good prospects.
The Horner's syndrome , a neurological disease , brings a drooping upper eyelid ( ptosis ), constricted pupil ( miosis ), an eyeball retracted, and the inability to sweat ( anhydrous ) along with it. Characteristic of this condition is that this happens only on one side of the face. The nerve path from the brain to the face and eyes is interrupted on one side of the body. The treatment of this is supportive.
Infection and inflammation
There is also neck pain in some infections; usually it feels warm and swollen. Examples of these infections are:
glandular fever (infection by Epstein-Barr virus with sore throat )
labyrinthitis (inflammation of part of inner ear)
Ludwig's angina (swelling of airways due to dental problems)
meningitis (meningitis with headache and stiff neck)
recurrent polychondritis (inflammation of cartilage)
rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of joints and organs)
Bechterew's disease (permanent joint inflammation with symptoms on the eyes and spine)
Paget's disease (chronic inflammation of the bone with bone pain as a result)
Kyphosis is a condition that often occurs in athletes, including cyclists, baseball players and bodybuilders. These athletes are often with their shoulders forward and the chin forward, creating a backward curvature of the spine. Any movement that promotes this kind of posture may lead to kyphosis.
Injury / trauma
In case of an accident, a patient may be confronted with a concussion (mild brain injury caused by an impact on the skull) and a whiplash . The head makes a whiplash a kind of pendulum movement (unintentionally and unexpectedly quickly pushed forward and backward) that extends beyond the normal neck movement. This causes damage to the muscles and ligaments in the neck, causing weakness in the neck, pain in the neck and neck stiffness. Furthermore, traumas sometimes cause microscopic fractures in the neck muscles, causing inflammation in the neck. This also causes neck pain. In case of injury or trauma, sufficient recovery time is required before the patient returns to the normal rhythm with activities and sports.
Neck disorders and abnormalities of the neck
A spinal infection, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine with narrowing and weakness) or a neck fracture are all disorders that lead to a painful neck. Neck problems, however, also occur in a tumor in the neck, such as a spinal tumor (tumor in the spinal cord), a chordoma (malignant primary bone tumor ) or tuberous sclerosis (neurocutaneous disorder with tumors).
Old age condition
In aging, cervical arthrosis develops , a rheumatic disorder of articular cartilage of the neck. This allows pain, stiffness, joint sounds (neck reciterations) and hardness of the neck. In this disease, the body forms osteophytes (bony bony protrusions around joints) that affect the joint movements. The intervertebral discs are also subject to aging. They lose the elasticity and the height. As the condition progresses, disc herniation may develop (neck hernia).
Spondylolisthese, also known as 'spondylolisthesis' and 'spondyloptosis', is a congenital condition in which a vertebra (usually the lumbar vertebra) protrudes forwards or backwards with respect to the following vertebrae. This is not always accompanied by complaints but sometimes (severe) pain in the back and a stiff back and pain appear when moving. Stretching exercises and medication alleviate these complaints. An operation is required in patients with severe complaints.