The neck is an essential and complex part of the body made up of numerous structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves. The neck also has soft connective tissues and discs that help with the head's movement and rotation. The soft and rubbery cushion making the disc also acts as a shock absorber that helps to reduce head impact. Healthy people without neck issues should comfortably and freely move their heads from one side to another. Thus, people with neck issues such as stiffness and neck pain should consult a doctor for professional assistance. Individuals who experience persistent sharp or chronic neck pain should seek treatment to prevent further complications requiring strict medical attention. Below are a few common causes of neck pain.
Neck Strain and Neck Sprain
Neck strains and neck sprains are some of the most common causes of neck pain. Neck strains occur when a tendon in the neck region is torn. Neck sprains are tears that occur in the ligament connecting the vertebra in the neck region. Neck strains and sprains share similar symptoms, including neck stiffness, neck pain because of movement, reduced neck flexibility, or sharp pains in the muscles on the upper shoulder. Doctors usually diagnose neck strains and sprains using the patient's medical history and a physical exam. They use ice and anti-inflammatory drugs for neck pain treatment in mild cases and soft collars and physical therapy in advanced cases. As such, people experiencing neck pain from strains or sprains should seek urgent medical assistance before the problem persists.
Herniated discs are caused by forceful, repeated, or sudden excessive stress on the spinal joints. This results in the tissues found in the neck disc escaping and causing compression of the nerve root, translating to a burning sensation moving down the patient's arm. Doctors can diagnose herniated discs through the patient's medical history, a physical exam, and an MRI. Doctors diagnose and determine the correct treatment approach, starting with ice and physical therapy for relatively mild cases and surgery for severe cases. Patients are also expected to stop performing vigorous physical activities such as lifting weights until the neck pain is completely healed.
Cervical osteoarthritis is a neck condition that occurs when the neck joint's protective cartilage breaks down. Osteoarthritis is a normal condition in older people but can also happen because of a severe injury. Cervical osteoarthritis usually manifests through localized neck pain in a single spot and neck stiffness. Doctors can detect osteoarthritis through CT scans, MRI tests, and the patient's medical history. Many factors can cause neck pain; thus, patients should consult a medical doctor to determine and address the issue.