NECK PAIN - A modern day epidemic
What are the causes, symptoms and how does it affect our life
5 minutes read
Nothing lasts forever. Specially human body. Years of activity, bending, carrying and lifting can take a heavy toll on your back - to be more precise, the one part of the body that is hurting the most is your neck.
Considering the daily stress and the time modern humans spend in front of their laptops, phones and tablets, it's no wonder we're dealing with such an issue.
It comes as a no surprise that about 50% of the people experience some sort of neck and back pain in their lifetime.
And when it comes to neck and the pain associated with it - it goes beyond regular pain.
Issues with cervical spine can cause radiating pain, as well as numbness and weakness in your shoulders, arm, and hand.
This discomfort can impact your life, family and your job.
Half of the population is experiencing some form of back pain
Our spine and neck - foundation of well being
We can confidently say that our cervical spine is one of the most important body parts. It is made up of seven bones called, vertebrae. These are separated by shock-absorbing discs, filled with cushion-like tissue.
Cervical discs both stabilize your neck and allow it to turn smoothly from side to side and bend forward to back.
Without them, we would be very stiff and have very limited movement.
The spinal column supports our head and protects the spinal cord. This is the main structure which links the network of nerves throughout your body. Messages travel along this network sending sensations, such as pain, to our brain.
Needless to say, any damage or issue associated with spinal column is potentially a huge problem in the future.
Cervical discs are our natural shock absorbers
What is causing neck pain?
Examples of common conditions causing neck pain are degenerative disc disease, neck strain, osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis, spinal stenosis, poor posture, neck injury such as in whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve (cervical radiculopathy).
Neck pain can come from common infections, such as virus infection of the throat, leading to lymph node (gland) swelling and neck pain.
Neck pain can also come from conditions directly affecting the muscles of the neck, such as fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica as well as from uncomfortable positioning of the neck while sleeping with the head on a pillow.
Risk factors for neck pain include injury from involvement in contact sports, motor-vehicle accidents, bull or bronco horse riding, etc. Prevention of neck pain in the context of these activities should include neck strengthening exercises and often neck bracing.
Bad posture and daily stress plays a big role in neck and back pain
What are the symptoms?
Neck pain symptoms can vary widely. The pain may just be a mild nuisance, or it could be so excruciating that a person avoids any excessive movement.
Oftentimes neck pain is located in one spot and goes away on its own within a few days or weeks. But in some cases the pain becomes constant or radiates into other body parts, such as the shoulder and arms.
Common symptoms associated with neck pain usually involves one or more of the following:
- Stiff neck. Soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head from side to side.
- Sharp pain. This symptom can be pain localized to one spot and might feel like it’s stabbing or stinging. Often, this type of pain occurs in the lower levels of the neck.
- General soreness. The pain is mostly in one spot or area on the neck, and it’s described as tender or achy, not sharp.
- Radiating pain. The pain can radiate along a nerve from the neck into the shoulders and arms. The intensity can vary and this nerve pain might feel like it’s burning or searing.
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness. These sensations can go beyond the neck and radiate into the shoulder, arm or finger. There could be a “pins-and-needles” sensation. Typically, pain that radiates down the arm is felt in only one arm, not both.
- Trouble with gripping or lifting objects. This can happen if tingling, numbness, or weakness in the fingers is present.
- Headaches. Sometimes an irritation in the neck can also affect muscles and nerves connected to the head. This could be a tension headache, such as from neck muscles tightening; or occipital neuralgia, where a pinched occipital nerve in the neck causes pain to radiate up into the head’s sides and scalp.
How to treat neck pain, non surgical and drug-free way
Nonsurgical spinal decompression is a type of manual or motorized traction that may help relieve back pain.
Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine. That changes the force and position of the spine. This change takes pressure off the spinal disks, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine, by creating negative pressure in the disc.
As a result, bulging or herniated disks may retract, taking pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn, helps promote movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.
Doctors have used nonsurgical spinal decompression in an attempt to treat:
- Back or neck pain or sciatica, which is pain, weakness, or tingling that extends down the leg
- Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
- Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
- Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots