Neck pain is a common ailment because your neck is a complex interlocking structure consisting of bones, joints, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Its main job is to hold up the weight of your head which, at around 5 kilograms, is no mean task.
Add to this the requirement that the head must be able to move from side to side and up and down (and do these simultaneously), plus the fact that the neck has to form a conduit for the spinal cord, carry blood vessels to and from the head, and contain passageways for air and food, and you have quite a complex feat of engineering. No wonder then that neck pain occurs and causes discomfort, not only on occasion, but for some people in an ongoing fashion.
Symptoms of neck pain and the sensations you feel can help your osteopath to diagnose the cause. Here are some symptoms of some common neck complaints that cause neck pain:
A spasm is a sudden, powerful, involuntary contraction of muscles. The muscles feel painful, stiff and knotted. If you have neck muscle spasms, you may not be able to move your neck — sometimes people call it a crick in the neck. Your osteopath may call it acute torticollis or wry neck pain Brisbane.
The neck muscles are sore and may have hard knots (trigger points) that are tender to touch. You may get neck pain on one side only or up the middle of the neck.
The neck muscles are tight and if you spend too long in one position they feel even tighter. Neck pain brisbane stiffness can make it difficult or painful to move your neck.
Pain from the neck can radiate down the arms, and sometimes, the legs. You may feel a sensation of pins and needles or tingling in your arms, which can be accompanied by numbness, burning or weakness. This type of neck pain is typically worse at night and requires immediate neck pain brisbane assessment.
Headaches are common in conjunction with neck problems. They are usually a dull aching type of headache, rather than sharp pain. While the headaches are often felt at the back of the head, the pain may also radiate to the sides, and even the front of the head.
Loss of range of motion
If you can’t turn your head to the side to the same degree towards each shoulder, or you feel limited in how far forward you can lower your head to your chest, or how far you can tilt your head back, you may have reduced range of motion. Your osteopath will be able to test this.
This may sometimes accompany neck pain brisbane and can be due to position detectors in the joints of your cervical vertebrae being injured.
What causes neck pain?
These are some of the most common causes of neck pain:
This commonly follows a car accident in which the person’s car is hit from behind while it is stationary or slowing down. The person’s head is first thrown backwards and then when their body stops moving, the head is thrust forward. This type of injury can strain your neck muscles and cause ligaments in the neck to stretch or tear.
The neck pain brisbane from whiplash, which is usually worse with movement, does not always start immediately — it may take several days to come on. Neck pain and stiffness may be accompanied by muscle spasm, dizziness, headaches, nerve pain and shoulder pain.
Ongoing overuse of your neck muscles (which can be caused by a poor neck position during everyday activities, particularly computer work) can trigger neck muscle strain, causing chronic neck pain brisbane and stiffness. The pain is often worse with movement and may be associated with headaches, muscle spasms and restriction of neck movements.
Degenerative disc disease
As we grow older, the soft gelatinous centre of the shock-absorbing discs in our spines dries out. This causes the discs to become narrowed, and the distance between the vertebrae to decrease.
If the tough outside layer of one of the cervical discs tears, the soft gelatinous centre may bulge outwards — this is known as a herniated disc. Herniated discs can put pressure on nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord, causing nerve pain in the neck as well as pain, numbness and weakness in the arms.
This degenerative condition of the cervical spine is due to normal ageing and wear and tear on the cervical discs and the vertebrae. It is also known as cervical osteoarthritis, and is more common among older people.
The development of bone spurs often accompanies this degeneration of the spine. Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are small outgrowths of bone tissue that are formed when the cartilage covering bone is worn away and bone starts to rub on adjacent bone. The bone spur is the body’s attempt to protect the bone surface. Unfortunately, the bone spur can sometimes pinch or press upon the nerve roots as they leave the spinal canal causing nerve pain.
Symptoms associated with cervical spondylosis include neck pain and stiffness that often improves with rest. The pain may radiate to the shoulders or between the shoulder blades. If there is nerve root compression, there may be numbness, pain or weakness in the arms.
Cervical spinal stenosis
Degenerative changes in the vertebrae can lead to narrowing of the canal in which your spinal cord lies — this is known as cervical spinal stenosis. As the canal becomes narrower, it can put pressure on the spinal cord. The associated neck pain is usually worse with activity, and may radiate to the arms or legs. Arm or leg weakness can also occur. Sometimes people with cervical spinal stenosis have no symptoms.
This is a very special and delicate area. Your neck has more muscles, nerves and vessels than any other part of the body. It also suffers the effects of overstrain, tension, muscle and spine problems only second in line to the low back.