Neck pain and its Causes

 Our neck or cervical spine is a complex web of nerves, bones, muscles and joints. Neck provides support and mobility to head, but sometimes it can become sore or rigid. Neck pain makes every day life difficult .  

There are a number of problems that cause pain in the neck. Some irritation along nerve pathways in the neck can cause pain in the shoulder, head, arm, and hand.

Neck pain usually goes away within a few days or weeks, but pain that lasts for months could signal an underlying medical cause that needs to be addressed. Early diagnosis and treatments are  key for the best results.

The intensity of the neck pain

Neck pain can be negligible and easily ignored to unbearable and interfering with daily life.  Sometimes neck pain can lead to a rigid neck and reduced movement in the neck. Neck pain can be either acute or chronic depending on how long it lasts.

 The Types of Neck pain

 Neck pain can be intense and located in one place, or it might feel less severe but spread across a broader region. Sometimes the pain radiates to the head. Other times it can be with a muscle spasm in the neck. But less common one is shock -like pain or tingling may travel down into the shoulder or arm.  

‘A doctor should be consulted if pain does not go away and life becomes difficult.’

  Signs and symptoms of Neck pain

Some signs and symptoms associated with neck pain could indicate a pinched nerve. Maybe there is an underlying disease or infection. The concerning signs and symptoms include fever or chills, pain or tingling in the limbs. Also, if the person has problem with balance or coordination. Severe neck pain can originate from an injury, such as a hard fall or car crash and needs emergency care of the person affected.

Neck pain usually involves one or more of the following symptoms and signs.

  • Headaches
  • Rigidity in neck
  • General sore feeling
  • Difficulty of picking objects
  • Intense pain  
  • difficulty to bear the head high

The development of neck pain

Neck pain is common among grownups, but it can happen at any age. It can develop suddenly, such as from an injury, or it may develop slowly over time, such as from years of poor posture or wear and tear.

The pain can usually be eased with self-care, such as rest, icing the painful area, or improving posture. Sometimes medical treatments are needed, such as medication or physical therapy. If nonsurgical treatments are not helping, surgical options may be considered finally.

                The most common causes of acute neck pain

  1. Poor posture
  2. Repetitive motions
  3. Injury

The most Common causes of chronic neck pain

  1. Cervical herniated disc
  2. Cervical osteoarthritis
  3. Cervical degenerative disc disease

Some Other neck pain causes

1.  infection.

2.  myofascial pain syndrome

3.  fibromyalgia

4.  spinal tumor

5. Stress

Risk factors of neck pain

Psychological risk factors, such as stress, lack of social support, anxiety and depression are the most important risk factors for neck pain. In terms of the biological risks, neck pain might happen as a result of certain diseases, such as neuromusculoskeletal disorders or autoimmune diseases.

Neck pain is multifactorial disease .and is a major problem in the present society. Although neck pain may not be the most common musculoskeletal disorders, it is still very important and common.  

 Since there is inclination for neck pain to become a chronic problem, it is important to enable prevention and early diagnosis. There are a number of risk factors which can contribute to its development. However, there is more indication for some risk factors, such as lack of physical activity, duration of daily computer use, perceived stress and being female.

some common Psychological factors behind neck pain

Overall, factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, low sleep quality, and alcohol consumption might play some role in changing the central pain processing within the spine, brainstem, or cortical levels.

  1.  Stress is related to pain and disability.  Studies have found that persons with neck pain had significantly more symptoms of stress than those without neck pain, and that constant and/ or regular feelings of stress was significantly associated with an increased chance of reporting neck pain. 
  2. Anxiety is related to different kinds of chronic pain as well as disability. People with neck pain have reported higher levels of anxiety, and anxiety has also been found to intensify pain and disability.
  3. The relationship between sleep quality and neck pain is cyclic as both can lead to the other. People with low sleep quality are at a higher risk of neck pain

 Furthermore, poor sleep quality can lead to an increase in the symptoms of depression for people with high intensity neck pain.

 Computer work related neck pain 

 Working with a computer is considered to be a professional condition that causes neck pain. Multiple factors have been suggested to play key roles in the development of computer-related neck pain, including posture, duration of working at a computer, psychological stress, tedious movements, lengthy static loads, and the psychosocial effects of the working environment.

Neuromusculoskeletal disorders

Neuromusculoskeletal disorders target the bones, muscles, and nerves, and can manifest themselves in numerous ways. Neck pain is one of the most common and obvious complaints of patients with these disorders. Some of the neuromusculoskeletal disorders are the following.

  1. Cervical spondylosis
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Cervical radiculopathy
  4. Whiplash – associated disorders

Autoimmune diseases and their role to cause neck pain

Autoimmune diseases are a chronic and clinically varied group of diseases that occur in immunocompromised individuals. These diseases affect various organs and tissues throughout the body. With some autoimmune diseases, the muscles, joints and nerves can be the target of the immune system. Therefore, they are also likely to affect the cervical spine. The most important autoimmune diseases are ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriatic spondylitis and   myositis,

The role of Genetics  

Genetic vulnerability plays an important role in the development of complex diseases. Finding the genetic contributions to complex traits is one of the greatest challenges facing modern medical genetics. The identification of the genetic factors of complex diseases can help provide some understanding of the pathogenesis of the diseases. These genetic factors seem especially important in the development of neck pain in early youth, while their role could be considered negligible at older age.

Age as a risk Factor

Aging is the most important risk factor for the most chronic pain, so identifying protective and risk factors is significant for raising awareness about effective preventative measures. To reduce the damage and suffering of the patient early diagnosis is essential.  Naturally, the normal anatomy of the cervical spine changes at advanced ages. Which can cause neck pain and disability in the long run.

Conclusion

There is high prevalence of neck pain around the world. Unfortunately, neck pain and chronic neck pain, is often multifaceted and cannot be easily managed. There are many potential risk factors, such as history of previous neck injury or medical history of low back pain. Some researchers have shown that people with chronic neck pain were more likely to suffer from psychological disorders compared to those without neck pain. Physical inactivity in youths was associated with an increased risk of cervical pain. Then there are some occupational factors that are preventable. Patients of musculoskeletal disorders should benefit from rehabilitation services. Therefore, it is important to find a cost-effective diagnostic method and treatment plan. Health should be the first priority for every person. After all, our body is the only place we can live.

Disclaimer.

The content here is for your information only. It is not an alternative to professional medical advice. likewise, it should not be used to diagnose or treat a disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. The information I have provided here does not guarantee benefits.