Cervicalgia, or discomfort in the area surrounding your spine behind your head, is another name for neck pain. Your cervical spine is another name for your neck. One of the most prevalent signs of a wide range of illnesses and injuries is neck discomfort.
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You may be experiencing either radicular or axial neck discomfort, which radiates into other parts of your body like your arms or shoulders. It may be chronic (lasting more than three months) or acute (lasting days to six weeks).
If left untreated, neck pain can make it difficult for you to go about your everyday activities and lower your quality of life.
Thankfully, the majority of neck pain reasons are not significant and respond well to conservative therapies including painkillers, physical activity, and stress reduction.
Who is impacted by discomfort in the neck?
Adults with neck discomfort frequently experience 10% to 20% of them. It affects more women and those who are born with a feminine gender assignment. As you become older, your chances of acquiring it rise.
Which factors might be causing your neck pain?
There are several possible reasons of neck discomfort, such as:
Getting older: Natural wear and tear can lead to the degeneration, or deterioration, of some cervical spine components, which can be painful. Neck discomfort can be brought on by degenerative diseases including spinal stenosis, which narrows the gaps in your spine, and osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage in your joints to break down. A herniated disk or pinched nerve can result from the weakening of your spine’s disks over time as a result of stress and repetitive motions.
Physical strain: Excessive use of the neck muscles during demanding or repetitive tasks can cause discomfort and stiffness. Neck discomfort can be exacerbated by bad posture, weak ab muscles, and a larger body weight, all of which can alter the alignment of your spine. For instance, a typical cause of neck pain is strained neck muscles from prolonged computer screen viewing.
Mental stress: Neck stiffness and discomfort can result from tensing your neck muscles due to stress. Many people tense these muscles in response to stress or agitation, and they are unaware of it until their neck begins to pain.
Injury: Neck discomfort can result from trauma and other injuries that affect your muscles, ligaments, disks, vertebral joints, and nerve roots in your spinal cord. Neck discomfort is frequently caused by whiplash, an injury sustained in car crashes.
Growths: Tumors, cysts, and bone spurs are examples of masses that can push on the nerves in your neck, producing pain.
Other medical conditions: Meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer are just a few of the illnesses that can cause neck pain.
How is a diagnosis made for neck pain?
A physical examination and a patient’s medical history are typically sufficient for a healthcare professional to determine the source of neck discomfort. A medical professional will first rule out more serious causes of neck discomfort, such as spinal cord compression, myelopathy, infection, or malignancy.
Medical history: Your doctor will inquire about any prior neck trauma that could have resulted in whiplash or a ruptured disk crisis. You can be questioned about your job or other activities that put strain on your neck. They will inquire about the specifics of your pain, such as when it began, where it is, how long it lasts, and how severe it is.
Physical examination: Your doctor will examine the alignment of your head and neck and measure your neck’s range of motion. To feel for soreness and indications of tension, they will feel your neck and the muscles that support it.
Imaging studies are typically not required to determine the cause of neck discomfort. However, if your discomfort is severe and doesn’t go away, or if your provider suspects a significant damage, they may take pictures of the interior of your neck.
X-rays: These images can reveal difficulties with your soft tissues or bones that could be the source of your neck pain. An X-ray can identify arthritis, fractures, slipped disks, and problems with neck alignment.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI can reveal issues with your soft tissue, bone marrow, spinal cord, and nerves. It can reveal indications of infection, if a disk has shifted, and masses—such as cysts or tumors—that might be the source of neck pain.
CT scan: If an MRI isn’t accessible, a CT scan could be utilized instead. Bone spurs and indications of deteriorating bone may be seen.