NECK PAIN: KNOW MORE

All you need to know about Neck Pain and how to relieve yourself of Neck Pain!

Neck pain is also known as cervical pain is the pain perceived in the neck which is a transitional area that joins the head to the trunk and limbs and bounded superiorly by the cranium and inferiorly by the clavicle. Neck pain can be a chronic pain with deep, dull and aching sensation and can also be an acute pain with sharp and intense sensation. The neck is a well-known region of vulnerability. There are 12 muscles of the neck, and any one or more of them can be affected by your neck pain.

SOME CAUSES OF NECK PAIN INCLUDE:

1.ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS – this is a chronic progressive inflammatory disease of the joints affecting the axial skeleton and sacroiliac joint. Its cause of inflammation in the joints elicits pain and the pain increases more when the affectation of the disease progresses to cartilage destruction, arthritis, fibrous and lastly bony ankylosis.
2.TENDINITIS- inflammation of the tendons of the muscle of the neck causes pain at the neck.
3.OSTEOMYELITIS- in this condition, there is infective attack of a bone by an infective organism causing formation of pus that seeps into connective tissue that surrounds the bone causing inflammation.
4.WHIP LASH INJURY- this is an acute injury that occurs during car accident falls and sports injury resulting in strain and sprain of the muscles and ligaments, respectively, thus causing pain in the neck when it affects the neck muscles and ligaments.
5.RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS- this is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the synovial sac of the joints resulting in neck pain when it affects the Synovial membrane of the cervical vertebrae bones.
6.SPONDYLOSIS- this is reduced joint space that occurs due to degeneration of joint cartilages and inter vertebral discs resulting in bones of the joint crushing over each other. This causes nerve compression causing pain.
7.THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME- Thoracic outlet is a space between the first rib, clavicle and scalene muscles. This syndrome results from compression of neurovascular bundles passing through the outlet. Compression of these bundles elicits pain at the neck.
8.POOR POSTURE- repetitive poor posture such as abnormal sitting posture, poor sleeping posture and poor walking posture can cause muscle strain resulting in pain.
9.POOR LIFTING TECHNIQUE

SMPTOMS OF NECK PAIN

Some presentations used to ascertain the presence of a condition include:
1.Pain in the neck that radiates into the base of the skull, shoulder, arm and upper back.
2.Reduced range of motion in the neck.
3.Weakness and numbness in the upper extremity.
4.Slower reflexes in the upper and lower extremity.
5.Movement of the neck makes the pain worse.
6.The pain tends to come and go with flare ups from time to time especially after unaccustomed use of the neck.
7.Neck stiffness particularly after a night rest.
8.Headaches may occur which often start at the back of the neck and travel over the top of the forehead.
9.Paraesthesia in the upper extremity.
10.There might be lack of sensation.
11.Muscle spasm.
12.Muscle stiffness.
13.Pain on swallowing.
The cause(s) of your neck pain can be diagnosed by the use of:
X-ray evaluation, CT scan, bone scan, MRI scan, myelogram, and electrical tests such as electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction velocity test (NCV), and by the use of special tests by your Physiotherapist.

Factors that could predispose one to neck pain include:
1.Age: individual older than 30 years of age have 2.61 times more chances of having neck pain. Over time, wear and tear on the spine can result in conditions (e.g., disc degeneration, spinal stenosis) that produce neck pain.
2.Gender: it is said to be more common in women than in men
3.Tobacco exposure: smoking can result in loss of bone density and increase the chance of injury later in life.
4.Improper stretching before any work out.
5.Excess weight puts undue stress on the spine, which can develop into pain.
6.Poor posture: improper neck positioning can cause muscle fatigue. This includes during sitting, standing and sleeping.
7.Occupational hazards. Any job that requires repetitive bending and lifting has a high incidence of neck injury (e.g., construction worker, nurse). Jobs that require long hours of standing without a break (e.g., barber) or sitting in a chair (e.g., computer operator) that does not support the neck well also puts the person at greater risk.
8.Genetics. There is some evidence that certain types of spinal disorders have a genetic component. For example, degenerative disc disease seems to have an inherited component.
9.Fall from height of at least a meter or five stairs and auto accident which can cause whiplash injury
Some neck pain prevention tips include:
1.Avoid slouching or a head forward posture. Sit straight in the chair with the lower back supported, feet flat on the floor, and shoulders relaxed.
2.Don’t sit for long periods without getting up or changing position. Take short breaks several times an hour to stretch your neck muscles..
3.Use proper lifting techniques. Lift with your knees not your back.
4.Neck exercises should also be done daily to strengthen and protect the neck.
5.Healthy body weight should be maintained.

Author:  Ngozi Mbelu (PT)

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